Eliza Ault-Connell had a great passion for sport, involved with horse riding, netball and basketball in her teens. A week after she turned 16, in 1997, she woke with a sore throat, but during the day her health deteriorated as meningococcal bacteria attacked her body. “I went from being fine that morning to being on life support that night,” Ault-Connell said. “I fell into a coma that night and I had my legs amputated on the second night of the coma.” Eliza remained in hospital for six months. In 1998 she received prosthetic legs to compete in athletics and competed in the T44 class (double below-knee amputees). But it was challenging for the teenager. “I had to stop running because I had a problem in the bone in the stump,” she says. “I’d do a hard training session, it would swell up and I wouldn’t be able to walk. So, I switched to wheelchair racing.”
She made her international debut in 2002 at the Manchester Commonwealth Games placing third in the wheelchair 800m. Also, in 2002 she competed World Para-Championships winning a silver in the T54 400m. Her sporting career continued at the 2004 Paralympics Games, 2006 World Para-Championships and what she considered her career highlight, a silver in the 800m at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.
Last year she made a comeback to the sport. She was encouraged by her three kids and was a great opportunity for them to see her compete. In 2018 she was ranked third nationally behind Madi de Rozario and Angela Ballard. In February 2018 her successful comeback was confirmed when she was selected in the Commonwealth Games team.
Eliza is a director of Meningococcal Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that raises awareness about meningococcal disease.