Katie Kelly is an Australian Paratriathlete competing in the ‘PT5’ category as a Vision Impaired athlete. She was born with a hearing loss, and from the age of 5 she has worn hearing aids. In her mid 20s, Katie noticed her eyesight was deteriorating and eventually an Opthalmologist diagnosed Usher syndrome, a genetic condition she had since birth.
In January 2015, Katie’s vision loss had progressed to the point she was considered ‘legally blind’, meaning less than 10 degrees field of vision. Having been a very active runner and triathlete over the years, Katie took the opportunity to contact Triathlon Australia to find out about competing as a Paratriathlete. Since that call to Triathlon Australia, Katie has been on an incredible road that has lead her all the way to the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Katie was also honoured to receive the 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award in Triathlon by Deaf Sports Australia. Katie is now based in Canberra training at the Australian Institute of Sport and is coached by the Head of the Paratriathlon AIS and Triathlon Australia program, Corey Bacon. Australia’s Michellie Jones, a two-time International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Champion (1992 and 1993), 2000 Olympic silver medallist and 2006 Hawaiian Ironman winner is Katie’s Guide.
In 2015, her first year in Elite Paratriathlon, she competed and won races at; the National Championships, (Redcliffe, QLD), World Paratriathlon Events in the Sunshine Coast (February), Yokohama (May), Iseo (June) and the World Championships, Chicago (September). After the win at the World Paratriathlon Championships in Chicago, Katie qualified with Triathlon Australia for entry to the 2016 Rio Paralympics. This year Katie has won the 2016 National Championships (January) at Robina, and now has two upcoming races and with good results, will ensure she meets the official selection for Rio by Triathlon Australia.
After winning the Paratriathlon PT5 (Vision Impaired) World Championships in September 2015 with Michellie Jones as her Guide, Katie and Michellie then went on to win Australia’s first Paratriathlon medal at the Rio Paralympics, where they won the Gold medal.
Katie has also recently started a new role with the Australian Paralympic Committee in a senior marketing and athlete liaison role.
During training Katie uses bluetooth technology through her iphone to communicate with her guide. The iphone is mounted to the front of the bike and when the microphone is activated, Katie can hear her guide through her hearing aids. Although waterproof hearing aids are available, during races, Katie prefers to compete without hearing aids. “I can’t be wasting time getting the hearing aids on after the swim and before the bike. Too little time!”
Away from Paratriathlon, Katie is a graduate of Griffith University studying Sports Management and has also completed her Master’s degree in Business at the University of Technology, Sydney. She has forged a successful career in Sport Management working for organisations such as Melbourne Storm, NRL, ANZ Stadium and Tabcorp.
With a strong passion for helping children with disabilities, Katie is in the process of setting up her foundation ‘Sport Access’. Sport Access will serve to remove barriers for children with a disability to participate in sport. After the Rio Olympics, Katie’s goal is to focus on the delivery of this Foundation and to work with the NDIS, Australian Paralympic Committee and other key organisations to deliver and promote the Foundation.
Katie has also been engaged to speak to a number of Australian government organisations and private companies to share her story of overcoming the challenges of Usher syndrome and living a full life with endless possibilities.
If you would like to find out more or support Sport Access, or would like to please contact Katie via:
If you would like to help Katie out with your training and travel commitments, you can donate here Australian Sports Foundation