Sport for Women

Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy

Type: Player/Athlete
Sports: Basketball
Location: Australia

Coming from a very sporty family, Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy played standing basketball for a while before her mentors, Paralympians Don Elgin and Tim Matthews, convinced her to try Paralympic sport. Her proudest moment came when she first represented Australia at the Tri-Nation Tournament in America in 2003. Read the rest at

Top 100 Sportswomen Nomination

Kathleen is a fighter, she shows pure determination and passion in her sport. She has represented this country many times playing a sport she loves. She is currently playing in Italy, being the only girl on a mens team! Kudos!

- Ella Sabljak

I nominate Kathleen because she has sacrificed so many things in the pursuit of becoming the best sportswoman she can be. She is an amazing woman.

- Clare Nott

Kathleen on Twitter

Kathleen in the News

Q & A

Greatest sporting achievement: Winning a bronze medal at the 2008 Paralympic Games with the Aussie Gliders and being asked to play professionally in the Italian men's league

Greatest achievement off the field:  It's a big and satisfying achievement for me each time I change someone's perception or have a positive impact on how people view athlete's and in particular women with disability

Academically - receiving a scholarship to the university of Illinois has been a big highlight.

Who is your sporting heroine? My sporting heroine is Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, I was lucky enough to receive some mentoring from her which greatly helped my decision  to make the big move to America to play college basketball. She made a lot of big sacrifices, including to be away from her family at a very young age, to achieve what she did. I admire her strength and resilience as woman and as a 'minority' to not let anything get in her way.

How many hours per week to you train/exercise? 25-30 hours a week What kind of diet or nutrition plan are you on? I'm lactose and fructose intolerant so I have got to be careful in monitoring how much 'bad stuff' I eat. I try to keep my diet very clean, lots of rice, vegetables and meat with at least 2 liters of water a day. I love snacking on almonds, protein shakes are also very important for me. I am constantly working out what works for me, but I think keeping everything in moderation is the most important thing for me. Massive weakness for Thai food and banana smoothies.....not necessarily together...

What do you love about your sport? I love the feeling of community in our sport, even on an international level, us women look out for each other. On one end we are all fiercely competitive and want to kick each other's butts but on the other end we all support each other off court and the women in disability sport movement. I have made some amazing friends from all over the world as a result. On court I love how physical the game is, women's wheelchair basketball continues the get faster and more aggressive every year, it's not for the faint of heart!

If you could change something about your sport, what would it be? I would love for more people to get involved in our sport whether they have a disability or not, on a community based level it is fantastic to see anyone jump in a sports chair, have a crack and immediately start loving it (how can you not?) as a sport! Awareness and participation levels are two things we are all working on improving for our sport.

What motivates you? I love being an athlete and competing at an elite level, what motivates me is my desire to win and reach my best and in turn help my team to reach our best. I love this sport, and what gets me doing all it takes now is the competitiveness of our squad, the 12 going to London has not been selected and could go any way, which is fantastic for our team that we are all so competitive! So I am giving it my absolute all to have that amazing opportunity to represent my country at a Paralympic Games again.

Do you have a profession outside of your sport? Right now I am a professional wheelchair basketball player, when I was home in Melbourne I did a lot of disability consultancy work and have also been looking into setting up a foundation to help young people with or without disability to set no limits in life and in sport. A big part of this will be setting up programs  and initiatives to help shift the community perception of people with disability or anyone who is different - encouraging everyone to celebrate our differences. I'll also be going back to school to finish my Speech Pathology Degree.

Three words that describe you: Persistent, outgoing, friendly

If I wanted to play your sport, what advice would you give me? Firstly I would say, Great choice! Contact your local wheelchair sports organization to find out what development programs are out there for beginners. There are also local competitions that anyone can go along to and have a play. It's always a bit daunting trying a new sport, it will take some time to get used to the wheelchair (our equipment) so don't get frustrated just have a laugh! Remember anyone can play on a community level so if you feel a bit too nervous to go by yourself, feel free to rope a couple of friends in too! The more the merrier :-) I am always happy to help anyone getting involved in any way I can, as are all the Gliders, so don't be afraid to ask for any help or advice :-)

Kathleen O'Kelly-Kennedy Supports Sport for Women Day

My personal experience has shown me how important and empowering it can be for women to get involved in sport and active living, which is why I will always support Sport for Women Day in any way I can.

I also believe elite female athletes deserve the same support and recognition as their male counterparts, and this day is a fantastic way to highlight and recognize their achievements, while inspire the next generation of female sporting stars!