Two RMIT students will be going all out for medal glory in the pool at the Rio Paralympics.
Monique Murphy and Ashleigh McConnell, who train together, are members of Australia’s prestigious swimming team.
Australian swimmers have competed in every summer Paralympic Games, winning 391 medals – 119 of them gold.
Murphy and McConnell are joined in Rio by RMIT osteopathy alumnus, Jessica Gallagher, who is competing in track cycle racing.
Murphy, who is studying for a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours), competes over 50m, 100m and 400m in freestyle and 100m backstroke.
Swimming became part of her rehabilitation after an accident in 2014 led to her right leg being amputated below the knee.
Within eight months Murphy had qualified for the Australian National Championships.
In 2015, she competed as part of the Australian team at the IPC World Swimming Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, making two finals.
McConnell, who’s studying for an Associate Degree in Business and who was born without a left hand or forearm, also competed in Glasgow, winning gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
She narrowly missed out on the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but cemented her place in Rio by winning bronze in the 50m freestyle multi-class final at the 2016 Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide.
She swims 50m and 100m freestyle and relay.
Gallagher is no stranger to the Paralympics, having competed at both winter and summer Games – the first Australian para-athlete to do so.
In 2010 at Vancouver, Canada, Gallagher, who is sight impaired, made history by becoming the first Australian woman to win a winter Paralympics medal.
She picked up bronze skiing in the slalom – winning it on her 24th birthday.
Four years later, she did it again, winning bronze at the Games in Sochi, Russia.
Although hampered by injury, Gallagher competed at the 2012 London Paralympics in the long jump and javelin, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
Professor Belinda Tynan, RMIT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Vice-President, wished the three women success.
“It’s inspiring to see how Monique, Ashleigh and Jessica have refused to let their challenges stand in the way of sporting and academic success.
“I’d encourage all RMIT students who enjoy sport at any level to get involved. RMIT Link offers so many ways to play, whether for fun or at a competitive level.
“I can promise our female trio in Rio that the RMIT community is behind them all the way!”
Former RMIT Paralympian
Nicholas Morris OAM was a member of the Australian wheelchair basketball team that won gold at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta, USA. He was also a member of the squad at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney.
Story: David Glanz