Lakeisha ‘Lucky’ Patterson

I want to give a big shout-out today to our wonderful young Australian, 23-year-old Lakeisha ‘Lucky’ Patterson, who won gold in the S9 400 metres freestyle last night in Tokyo.

When Lucky was born she had a stroke, which left her with cerebral palsy. She was raised by her beautiful mum, Sherryn, and her two sisters. She is proof positive that it’s not what happens to you in life that matters; it’s how you respond. For treatment, she starting swimming at the age of five. At 14, she watched the Paralympics in London and decided then and there that that was her destiny. Four years later, Lucky had qualified and had swum at Rio, where she bagged six medals—two gold, three silver and one bronze—and two records.

Lucky lives in constant pain, so much so that she has nerve-blocking injections into her spine because she can’t take painkillers as a result of ASADA rules. Each day, Lucky swims three kilometres in the morning and three kilometres at night, and last night, as I said, she won gold for Australia in the 400 metres freestyle in a time of four minutes, 36 seconds and 68 hundredths of a second, beating her opponent from Hungary by just one one-hundredth of a second.

Congrats and thanks for being such a great mentor to my daughter Sarah, who coincidentally turns 19 today. Happy birthday, Sarah, and thank you, Lucky, for being an inspiration to our country.