'We are elite athletes': Katie Kelly weighs in on medal bonus debate

Guide Brie Silk and Katie Kelly. Photo: Paralympics Australia
Guide Brie Silk and Katie Kelly. Photo: Paralympics Australia

A major disparity between the prizemoney bonus Paralympians receive in relation to the Olympic counterparts drew national attention during the Tokyo campaign.

Our Olympians receive $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. Paralympians nothing.

Rio gold medallist Chloe Dalton launched an online campaign through her website, TheFemaleAthleteProject, which gained enough momentum for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take notice.

The PM announced the federal government would provide enough cash to Paralympics Australia to reward the medal-winning athletes for their efforts in Tokyo.

Armidale's Katie Kelly, who won gold at the Rio Paralympics and was sixth at the recent Tokyo event, threw her support behind the campaign as well.

"My view that Paralympians are professional athletes," she said.

"We are at the same level as Olympians and we should be recognised equally as Olympic athletes.

"We are elite athletes, we train full-time, we train with Olympic athletes and we should be recognised equally across all the programs."

Even in her sport of triathlon, there's major disparities outside of Paralympic and Olympic competitions.

"A lot of the sports, say my sport of triathlon, there's no prizemoney for Paratriathletes but there is million dollar prizemoney for able-bodied and that has got to change," she said.

Kelly also highlighted facilitating sports for disabled athletes comes at a higher cost than for able-bodied competitors.

She also said watching Paralympic athletes provide a lot of inspiration for the Australian public.

"I think Australians love seeing the Paralympics for its diversity and its grit and determination of its athletes," she said.

"Paralympics make huge benefits to Australia's society and wellbeing.

"By being showing the way and excelling at sport, we inspire and encourage all Australians with disabilities to contribute in their own way, whatever their passions are."

She believes the impact disabled athletes goes even further than that and disabled athletes also positively impact some parts of the economy.

"It brings huge benefits to the community," Kelly said.

"But also there's so many businesses that benefit from the disability sector.

"So you think of all the technology companies building infrastructure, they all benefit and it will be great to see more investment from those sorts of companies as well."

Kelly also believes seeing Paralympic athletes doing what they do best also encourages the public to open their eyes to new ways of making their own communities more inclusive for a diverse range of people.

"It causes people to reflect in their own backyard and think 'hang on, how can we make this workplace more accessible for people in wheelchairs or vision impaired people?'" she said.

"So therefore more of those type of people are in our workforce and less reliant on government support."

This story 'We are elite athletes': Paralympian weighs in on medal bonus debate first appeared on The Armidale Express.