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Katie Kelly OAM

Para-triathlete, Ambassador and Advocate for equality and inclusion in sport and in the community.

About KK

Katie Kelly OAM is an Australian Paralympic Gold Medallist and had the honour of winning Australia’s first medal at the Rio Paralympics where Paratriathlon (vision impaired class) made its debut. She is also the Founder and Director of Sport Access Foundation, providing grants for Australian children living with a disability. Katie has worked in consumer sports marketing for over 15 years with organisations as Australian Paralympic Committee, NRL, ANZ Stadium and Tabcorp. 
 
Katie is passionate about promoting inclusiveness for Australians living with a disability. She has worked with a number of community organisations including Blind Cricket Australia, Australian Deaflympic Team, as well as initiating professional fun runs in regional NSW and was involved in setting up the Darwin Parkrun. Katie is also on the Board of Deaf Sports Australia and is an Ambassador for the Royal Deaf Blind Institute for Children and Usher Kids Australia.

Katie also won the World Championships in Rotterdam 2017, and the World Championship in Chicago, 2015. Most recently, in 2018, Katie finished third in her third World Championships on the Gold Coast.

Katie's experience of being born with profound hearing loss, diagnosed at the age of 5 years, and then at 22 years of age being confirmed she had the condition Usher Syndrome resulting in hearing and eye sight provides a unique position to share the challenges of managing a disability in the modern workplace.

Katie talks about real life examples of employers attitudes and at times appalling lack of sensitivity around her condition. What is interesting is to hear her describe her efforts to hide her disability, and she explains that it took her a long time to realise it wasn't she that needed to modify but rather the workplace.

Katie's passion for gender equality particularly in women's sport was evident from a young age when at 15 years she would write to the Toowoomba Chronicle seeking explanations on the lack of women's sport coverage. This would later be published in the Australian Sports Commission Active Women's newsletter. 

An individual with a strong sense of social justice and has had a determination in her own small way to improve the opportunities for women in sport, and more recently for young children to access sport that are living with a disability.

Testimonials

What they say About KK

Katie Page
Katie Page
CEO
-
Harvey Norman
Katie Kelly is exceptional. She is an exceptional para-triathlete, philanthropist and social welfare entrepreneur. Her achievements in just one of these fields puts her in the league of champion. That she has reached the highest levels of accomplishment in each of these fields means she is in a league of her own.
John Wylie
John Wylie
Chairman
-
Sport Australia
Katie Kelly is a remarkably impressive Australian who has conquered disability through Usher Syndrome to win Gold for Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Her victory in Rio, was one of the most inspirational I have seen in Australian sport. It had it all – courage, resilience, and a true team effort. She is also a community-minded person who is committed to giving back to sport and to Australian life more broadly. She is a genuine role model and leader.
Lynne Anderson
Lynne Anderson
CEO
-
Paralympics Australia
It is incredible to think I’ve known Katie Kelly OAM for over 20 years as we have had many cross-overs through her sports marketing career that included time at Melbourne Storm, and in these recent years representing Australia at the Paralympic Games in Triathlon. Since her Gold Medal in Rio, Katie has set up her own Foundation, Sport Access Foundation. This is a wonderful reflection on Katie’s profound sense of gratitude and aspirations to give back and reflective of her ethos of always wanting to acknowledge the many opportunities that have come her way.
Greg Nash
Greg Nash
CEO
-
PICA Group
We’re incredibly proud of Katie and delighted to support her on her quest to represent Australia at Tokyo 2020. We’re also proud of the work of Katie and SAF are doing to assist the next generation of Paralympians. The PICA Group proudly support an inclusive and diverse workplace, so it makes sense that we promote this more broadly in the community via activities such as SAF. We encourage all companies to dig deep and help Sport Access Foundation support our young.
Mark Vassella
Mark Vassella
CEO
-
BlueScope
Katie Kelly what an inspiration! We are proud to support Katie and her foundation Sport Access Foundation by providing our people to develop the Sport Access Foundation's strategic plan and to raise more funding to ensure the sustainability of the Foundation for the next generation of Parlaympians. Katie is the founder of this wonderful organisation, she's a gold medal winning Paratriathlete, and she's an incredible inspiration.
Robert Mancinelli
Robert Mancinelli
General Manager, Central Business Services
-
Shell Australia
Thanks for spending the morning with our team in Shell. The feedback has been absolutely fantastic, with one of our leaders today telling us it was one of the best external speaker events he has been to in his time in Shell. What a great recognition! He said you were truly inspiring – which I absolutely echo!
Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson
Former NRL Coach
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Melbourne Storm and Australian Kangaroos
I first met Katie almost 20 years ago when she was a part of a winning environment at Melbourne Storm. She has taken her amazing attitude to life to an even greater level of personal success when in 2016 she became the first ever Australian athlete to win a Paralympic gold medal in Triathlon. It was one of my great sporting moments to be there at the finish line in Rio to see her achieve a dream of becoming the best in the world in her sport. This latest KK initiative (Sport Access Foundation) exemplifies her determination to allow more young people to share in her passion for sport.
Hollie Feller
Hollie Feller
Co-Founder
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Usher Kids Australia
Katie, your presentation covered a wealth of information that the Health and Research professionals (in Deaf and Blind conditions) and families found extremely useful. Your story and delivery was perfect for the audience and we have already had some extremely positive feedback.
Scott Westcott
Scott Westcott
Olympian, Marathon
-
formerly Athletics NSW
Katie and I worked together for over three years setting up fun runs for Athletics NSW around country and regional areas including our home towns of Parkes (mine) and Casino and Armidale (Katie). I always remember the day when Katie came back to the office after a visit to her Ophthalmologist and she told me she was declared legally blind. Most people would be struggling with that kind of news. Katie though had already made calls to Triathlon Australia after that appointment and found out she had the opportunity to compete as a Paratriathlete in the vision impaired classification with the Rio Paralympics in mind. It was incredible to think 18 months from that day she would go into win Gold for Australia in Rio.
Amanda Shalala
Amanda Shalala
Journalist
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ABC, former Fox Sports
The drive and commitment Katie Kelly displayed to win Gold at the Rio Paralympics are qualities that will ensure the Sport Access Foundation is a success. Katie has shown the immense power of sport for people with a disability, and now she will unlock opportunities for children to experience the same.
Tilly Rogers
Tilly Rogers
Executive
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Frank Knight
There wasn’t many people in the room who didn’t wipe their eyes. A very relevant, enlightening and gripping chat. What an admirable, courageous and strong woman. My favourite part was when she said that she didn’t want to go to a special school when she was 7 and that continued all through her career and life to date never ticking the box that she had a disability. I loved it.
Garry West-Bail
Garry West-Bail
General Manager
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Deaf Sports Australia
Katie, well done on the great speech that you presented at the Opening Ceremony of the National Cricket Inclusion Championship - I know many appreciated and absorbed your words.
Nicole Woodward
Nicole Woodward
Resourcing Manager
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Peerpoint / Allen & Overy
Allen & Overy (Australia) just had an hour with Katie Kelly OAM, and hearing about the great work she has done for Sport Access Foundation and hearing her story in Paratriathlon.
Deborah Ryan
Deborah Ryan
Assistant Principal
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St Ursula's College, Toowoomba
Katie it was so wonderful to welcome you back to the College. I have heard so many anecdotal comments about your address ranging from that was the best speaker we have ever had and how impressed they were on how you engaged all the different age groups! Sincere thanks and we hope that you can come back and speak to us all again soon!
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Awards and
Achievements

2x
World
Champion
2015, 2017
Gold
Medallist
Paralympics
2016
Female
Triathlete
of the Year
2017
Para-
triathlete
of the Year
2017
Order of Australia
Medal
2017
Sir Roden Cutler
Award
2017
Worlds
3rd place
Gold Coast
2018
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Katie Speaking

Ambassador and Advocate

Usher Syndrome

What is it?

Genetic
Disorder

An extremely rare genetic disorder that Is a leading cause of deafblindness and is at present incurable.

Signs &
Symptoms

Hearing loss leading to deafness, loss of vision leading to blindness as well as balance problems and speech difficulties.

Children
with Ushers

Approx 3% to 6% of all children who are deaf and another 3% to 6% of children who are hard-of-hearing have Usher Syndrome.

Birth
Rate

In developed countries such as the United States and Australia about 4:100,000 births have Usher Syndrome.

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