Why Australian Paralympic swimming legend Ellie Cole wrote ‘ANDY’ underfoot

Why Australian Paralympic swimming legend Ellie Cole wrote ‘ANDY’ underfoot

Why Australian Paralympic swimming legend Ellie Cole wrote ‘ANDY’ underfoot

There were tears of joy and a cheering ovation as Australia’s most decorated Paralympian, Ellie Cole, retired from swimming last weekend – and she did so while sporting an ode heartwarming to an iconic children’s movie.

Cole posted a photo on social media after his last swim at the Duel in the Pool tournament, showing off his prosthetic foot with “Andy” written on the bottom.

It’s a homage to the award-winning Pixar film Toy Story, in which lead character Woody has “ANDY” (with a backwards N) written on his cowboy boot, given that it belongs to a child named Andy, who can’t quite write properly yet.

Why Australian Paralympic swimming legend Ellie Cole wrote ‘ANDY’ underfoot

I am your friend! Ellie Cole shows her tribute to Woody from Toy Story with ANDY written on her prosthetic foot

Woody, the iconic Toy Story character who was voiced by Tom Hanks

Woody, the iconic Toy Story character who was voiced by Tom Hanks

Woody has ANDY (with a backwards N) written on his boots by his owner, Andy

Woody has ANDY (with a backwards N) written on his boots by his owner, Andy

Cole’s hilarious tribute included a caption with the iconic Oscar-winning song, “You got a friend in me,” posted alongside a cowboy hat emoji.

It’s probably an attempt to make her fans smile, but also to remind others that she will always be there to inspire Australians, especially those with disabilities.

Dozens of Cole’s teammates and top Australians shared their delight at the stunning photo, with one saying: “You win the internet today.”

Former Bachelorette Georgie Love and WNBL star Maddie Garrick were among those to express their approval as fans were quick to comment on their admiration for the six-time Paralympic gold medalist.

Ellie Cole stars in a modeling campaign for Jockey Australia

Ellie Cole stars in a modeling campaign for Jockey Australia

Cole joined fellow para-athlete Will Martin, as well as superstar Emma McKeon and Grayson Bell, in the first relay featuring para and able-bodied swimmers competing in the same event at Duel in the Pool last Sunday.

US para-athletes Jamal Hill and Lizzi Smith, along with Amy Fulmer and David Curtiss, won the mixed 4x50m freestyle relay, but the result was of secondary importance to para-swimmers and able-bodied swimmers competing together in a revolutionary event.

“Big credit to Swimming Australia for putting on a para relay which was amazing to end my career with,” Cole said of his career.

“I feel like the last few months of my career have been filled with milestones.

“Swimming my last race as runner-up to Australia with a valid mixed para relay is something I never dreamed of, although I always hoped it would happen,” said Cole.

Ellie Cole is Australia's most decorated Paralympian of all time, with six gold medals

Ellie Cole is Australia’s most decorated Paralympian of all time, with six gold medals

Cole won four gold and two bronze at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

Cole won four gold and two bronze at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

The 30-year-old, who already has an Order of Australia medal, led the Australian team alongside Matt Levy on night two of Duel in the Pool, with both para-swimmers calling for careers brilliant after the meeting.

This is Cole’s third chance to retire after changing his mind at the end of the Tokyo Olympics and again after the Commonwealth Games.

The lure of a fairy tale ending in front of local fans at Sydney’s Olympic Park Aquatics Center proved too strong – fortunately for any Australian fans in attendance.

Ellie Cole attended Golden Slipper Day earlier this year looking glamorous as ever

Ellie Cole attended Golden Slipper Day earlier this year looking glamorous as ever

The inspirational swimmer had her leg amputated due to cancer at the age of two and won six gold, five silver and six bronze medals in the S9 category at four Paralympic Games.

“We lost the duel in the pool, so I was just asking (team coach) Rohan Taylor if it was again next year. I might come back for that,” Cole said with a smile.

“I will definitely hang up the goggles, but I still want to be around the pool if I can.

“Having the people who have literally been by my side from the very beginning here, it was really nice. Best way to end,” Cole said.

Ellie Cole is carried out of the pool on the shoulders of her teammates to loud applause

Ellie Cole is carried out of the pool on the shoulders of her teammates to loud applause

Cole and Levy ended their swimming careers in the same race – the 50m mixed multi-class staggered start – and left the pool together to a standing ovation.

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