Australian marathon swimmer Tammy van Wisse
Winning gold in the road individual time trial at London 2012
Being so close to the 1980 Olympics, knowing someone who lit the cauldron
Sports fanatic, workaholic, former undercover police officer and multiple sclerosis advocate, Carol Cooke is one of the most inspirational figures in Australian sport.
Having worked undercover with the drug squad in her native Canada for 14 years, Carol was devastated when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. She was told she should return to her native Canada before she became incapacitated and that she would never walk again. By 2001, this was true and she was using a wheelchair full time but through regular exercise and Botox injections in her legs, Carol not only walks but cycles and rows at a national level.
A former national swimmer in Canada who almost made the 1980 Canadian Olympic Team, Carol took up rowing in 2006 after she was identified at a Paralympic Talent Search day. She proved a natural on the water and placed sixth at the 2009 World Rowing Championships, narrowly missing out on a position on the Beijing 2008 team.
Not satisfied there, Carol switched sports to cycling with a view to making the London 2012 team. She made the Australian team for the 2011 UCI Para-cycling World Championships, racing the house down to claim silver in both the road race and road time trial. Her imposing form, which included dual victories in the road race and time trial at the 2011 National Road Championships, continued through to London, where at 51, Carol won gold in the tricycle class of the individual road time trial and silenced those who said she would never walk again.
Ever since her diagnosis, she has also thrown herself into raising awareness of multiple sclerosis. She initiated the 24 hour Mega Swim event, dedicated to raising money for MS and has now expanded the program to run in three states across 27 events.
While fundraising and sport consume the majority of Carol’s time, she also enjoys spending time with friends, her new grandson and at charity events. She believes in daring to face your fears, advice she has successfully implemented in her own incredible life story.