Little more than two years after her parents were told to say goodbye to her in a Brisbane hospital bed, Para swimmer Alexa Leary is celebrating a gold medal from the world championships.
Leary blitzed the rest of the field in the women’s 100m freestyle S9 event in Manchester, England, on Thursday, clocking one minute, 0.24 seconds to cap an extraordinary comeback from a life-threatening brain injury.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Alexa Leary wins gold at Para Swimming World Championships.
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In July 2021, a 70km/h accident while triathlon training left her requiring emergency surgery to stay alive.
Her parents Russ and Belinda were advised to prepare their goodbyes, and when their daughter pulled through they were told she was unlikely to walk or speak again.
Alexa Leary was all smiles after winning gold in Manchester. Credit: Getty Images
Now the 21-year-old can set her sights on competing at the Paris Paralympics next year.
“I am more than happy about it,” a delighted Leary said after topping the podium in Manchester.
“I’ve just come so far, it’s a big thing for me that I’ve pushed through and I’ve done ever better than … two years ago.
“The reason I’m here is because the people around me … support (me) non-stop.
“I’m actually very proud, I’m like, ‘Yeah, Lex, you’ve outdone yourself’.”
Katja Dedekind added a bronze medal to Australia’s Para Swimming World Championships tally, posting a season’s best 1:06.98 in the 100m backstroke S13.
Alexa Leary in her hospital bed in 2021. Credit: Instagram
“It’s not the race I was hoping for,” a disappointed Dedekind said of her third-place finish.
“It’s a practice run for next year. We are learning what works and doesn’t work.
“It’s back to the drawing board … and see what we have to do next to better that result.”
Thursday night’s racing finished with a silver for the Aussie quartet of Jack Ireland, Madeleine McTernan, Ruby Storm and Ben Hance in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay S14.
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