Paralympic great Ellie Cole has achieved just about every success the pool has to offer, but heading into her final competitive swim, the one gap in her resume is providing plenty of motivation.
“It’s driving me a lot,” Cole said of her quest for gold at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“I was training for Tokyo (2021 Paralympic Games) harder than I’ve ever trained before and that’s continued on to the Commonwealth Games, because there is one thing missing from my trophy cabinet and that’s the Commonwealth gold medal.”
That Cole has not won Commonwealth Games gold – collecting three bronze medals and one silver from two previous Games – is somewhat of an anomaly.
In Tokyo last year she became Australia’s most decorated female Paralympian when she collected her 17th medal, a haul that includes six gold medals.
Throw in another three world championship golds, and it’s clear that Cole is more than capable of mixing it with the best in the pool.
But she is also a realist, knowing opportunities are running out, with the women’s 100m Freestyle S9 her only event in Birmingham.
“I have the expectations that I am now in my 30s,” Cole told AAP.
“I’m going to give myself the best chance I can. But if I’m touched out at the end of the day, I’m still going to really appreciate what I’ve done in terms of my athletic career.”
While she’s still trying to go as quick as she can in the pool, Cole is doing her best to slow down out of it.
She says she’s taking the time to “smell the roses” ahead of her last Games trip, giving her a new appreciation for training and events like Wednesday’s unveiling of the opening ceremony uniforms.
The RM Williams-designed outfits were revealed to coincide with the countdown reaching 50 days until the start of the Games, with Cole joined by the likes of rugby 7s stars Sharni Williams, Maurice Longbottom and Charlotte Caslick at Admiralty House in Sydney.
“This is the first piece of Commonwealth Games kit that I’ve worn for Birmingham,” Cole said.
“Seeing the other athletes, wearing the uniform, seeing the media, it feels close – it feels like it’s only a week away rather than 50 days away.”
And what does Cole make of the uniforms, which inevitably seem to divide opinion?
“It’s beautiful. The colours are very subtle, classic and smart.
“And we have awesome RM boots, which I’m very excited about.”