Tamworth-born Erin Cleaver was diagnosed with right-sided hemiparesis, a form of cerebral palsy when she was one-year-old. First competing in athletics as a student at Barraba Central School in northern New South Wales, it was during a routine visit with her specialist at the time, Dr Kevin Lowe, that she was encouraged to pursue athletics as a recognised athlete with a disability.
Competing as a T38-classified athlete at the 2013 NSW Combined High Schools Athletics Carnival, she took home gold in each of the four events she entered – 100m, 200m, long jump and javelin.
In little over two years, and under the guidance of Newcastle-based sprint and jump coach, Shaun Fletcher, Erin debuted for Australia at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha. There she landed a personal best of 4.45m, earning a fourth-place finish among the world’s top long jump contenders. She also competed in the 100m sprint and the 4x100m relay, in a team comprising Isis Holt, Jodi Elkington-Jones and Ella Pardy. Unfortunately, they crossed the line for third but disqualified for an illegal second change.
Following Erin’s success at the Championships, the Hunter Academy of Sport awarded her their highest honour, the Best Performance by an Individual Sportsperson. Donning the green and gold for Australia at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, a moment which ranks among the highlights of her career to date, Erin won bronze in the 4x100m relay and was just two centimetres from achieving a podium finish in the long jump.
Cleaver, only 17, was in tremendous form over the summer of 2016/17 breaking the Australian open record with a leap of 4.62m. Selected for the London 2017 World Para Athletics Championships, Cleaver claimed her first individual global medal in the long jump. She won silver in the T38 long jump with a distance of 4.61m.
Her medal in London earned her automatic selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in the T38 long jump and eight CG B qualifiers secured selection in the T38 100m.
While at Hunter Sports High School in Gateshead, NSW, Erin was recognised for her achievements in Rio when she was named their Sportsperson of the Year, and in 2017 she was selected to speak to the Mendooran, Dunedoo and Coolah communities as an Australia Day Ambassador.
Off the track, Erin enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, and going to the movies. With travelling high on her priority list, she is currently learning how to drive so that she can explore her independence. A role model in her community, Erin enjoys encouraging others to pursue their dreams, and after finishing school, she would like to establish a career in coaching and occupational therapy.