Sport Eliza Ault-Connell is targeting the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics after her daughter convinced her to return to competition
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The ticket designs for the Tokyo 2020 Games were unveiled by Japanese para-canoeist Monika Seryu on Wednesday as the second wave of ticket sales for the Paralympics began. © Reuters/KYODO An aerial view shows the new National Stadium, the main stadium of Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, in Tokyo Organisers said the simple ticket designs, which feature the pictograms of each individual event and come in one of four colours, are inspired by the creation of fabrics for kimono, Japanese traditional formal wear.
It was a moment like many others, spent with her family watching television.
"We were actually watching the 2016 Paralympics," explained 38-year-old Eliza Ault-Connell, when quizzed about her decision to get back the racing seat after around a decade out of elite sport.
"My daughter said to me, you used to be so cool when you did wheelchair racing,"
It was that moment that got the mother of three thinking about the possibilities of a comeback.
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As a teenager, Ault-Connell had been a keen netballer and basketballer before contracting meningococcal disease. After recovering, she set her sights on competing at the top level once more.
Her talent and determination saw her go on to claim bronze in the women's wheelchair 800 metres at the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada in 2002 and again at Melbourne in 2006.
But it was in athletic retirement, off the back of that one comment from her daughter, that Ault-Connell realised she had an opportunity to teach her kids an important lesson as they approached primary school.
"I guess I never thought about what their perception was, about what I used to do," she explained.
"So, a couple of years later I managed to get an old track chair and jumped back in and the kids were so excited, and they thought mum's going to the Paralympics!
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"Just the fact that they had the faith that I could do that again inspired me to have a crack."
Of course, it would never be so easy.
Off the back of years of hard work and solid progress, which included a second placing in the women's marathon at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2018, Ault-Connell says she's confident of building on her form.
She believes she's doing enough to post the necessary qualification times to win a spot on the team for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which start in August.
"Last year, at World Championships in Dubai I got a bronze in the 400 metres," she said,
"I am still looking at this summer making some more A & B qualifications but all going well, we should tick those boxes in the coming months,"
Building to battle with Madison de Rozario
On Sunday, Ault-Connell will compete in the Australia Day 10-kilometre road race through The Rocks, in Sydney, the next stage of her preparation for the 2020 Paralympics.
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She'll be up against Madison de Rozario, who's after her fourth victory in the iconic race in a row.
De Rozario and Ault-Connell have had their share of battles over the years, including de Rozario's 13-second win at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, which relegated Ault-Connell to second.
It is a good thing that the two share such a rivalry, according to Ault-Connell.
"We have got a fantastic relationship, there is always a laugh between us and I just love the fact that I have got the best in the world in my backyard," she said.
"I am sure it does the same for her as well, having someone trying to compete with her."
After this weekend's 10-kilometre dash, Ault-Connell will set her sights on racing at events in Canberra before heading to the United States for the Boston and London Marathon.
"I did the double last year," she said.
"Although, they were two weeks apart and this year they are only one week apart so it will be a bit of a challenge, but I am up for it,"
A family affair
Ault-Connell says the most important thing for her on this new journey is involving her family.
The original source of inspiration for her elite sporting comeback, Eva, Elka and JB are often in tow when their mother competes, trains, or even makes a promotional appearance.
The Oz Day 10k will be no different, with a family outing planned to celebrate Australia Day, no matter where she finishes in the race.
"[Now], the kids are watching the process and seeing what it takes to represent Australia and just seeing what it takes to be an athlete.
"My eldest [Eva], is 11 years old and she actually is quite a keen sportsperson herself.
"Her goal is to make the 2028 Games,"
While it's unlikely the pair will form a mother-daughter combination at the Los Angeles Olympic & Paralympic Games in eight years given their age difference, Ault-Connell isn't ready to rule out that possibility just yet.
"There is no reason why, if the body and the mind are all going well, that I can't continue on," she said.
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