Willoughby Living

HUMANS OF WILLOUGHBY: Tiffany Thomas Kane

November 9, 2018

“I am 17 years old and a Paralympic swimmer. I was born with a disability called Hypochondriasis, which causes a shortness in my legs and arms. Hypochondroplasia is a form of short-limbed dwarfism. I started swimming because the doctors thought it would be a good way to treat my muscles and build my strength. As I got older I used to watch my sister Georgia swim and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.

My greatest achievement has been winning the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic games. I had dreamt to make the Paralympics my whole life and for that to come true was simply amazing. I was also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia. It showed me how my hard work has paid off. It was an honour to be recognised for representing my country. I was a bit shocked getting awarded the OAM, given it’s scale, but am so grateful and will always cherish it.

I have lived in the Willoughby area for about four years. I love the environment which is so community focused. There is always someone you know and someone to have a chat to. I’ve always felt so welcomed in this area. Outside of swimming I love to do horseriding and showjumping. I have my own horse and compete her most weekends. We have a lot of fun together. It’s a good break from swimming (and chlorine!). I’m just a regular girl. I love shopping, going to the beach, eating food and exploring new places.

My family have inspired me so much. I’ve had many challenges, but they have always had my back and given me all the love they can give. I also think my fellow swim team are amazing people, who give me so much support. They are my family too. My biggest inspiration is definitely wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley. He has changed the background of para sports and has achieved so much. I am so privileged to call him a friend. Another inspiration to me is Curtis McGrath, a paracanoeist. After an incident that took both his legs, he has shown that nothing can stop you.

My favourite quote which I always remember and think when I’m competing is ‘never give up, it’s just the beginning’. If I could inspire other local kids, I’d tell them to never give up. All the hard work you are doing will pay off and if you have a dream, go chase it because it will come true. Don’t wait around, do it right away. If you want to go to the Olympics or Paralympics (or something else), I say do what you need to do and show how tough and strong you are.”