With an OAM & 15 Paralympic medals under her belt including the 2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze she took home at the 2016 Rio Paralympic games, Ellie Cole has become one of Australia's most accomplished Paralympians. Ellie Cole, took 15 minutes out of her intense training in Sydney today to sit with us & answer a few questions we had on how she prepares for a major competition, and what her nutrition is like
Ellie, you won 6 medals at the Rio Paralympics, including two golds; what, if anything, do you eat before a major competition like that, and how early/late before competing do you eat?
“For every day domestic competitions I don't change my diet at all! As an athlete, I always ensure that I maintain a balanced diet of fruit and vegetables, protein and carbohydrates and these micro and macronutrients are also important before and during competitions for recovery. When you are staying in a Paralympic village, it can be tricky because other people are cooking for you though! In Rio, all that I seemed to eat was pasta, curry and steamed vegetables!”
After you finish training or competing in the pool, what do you have to recover immediately after a race?
“Before I start my cool-down I usually slam down a protein shake to get me through until I can eat a proper meal. I use the Swisse Pure Warrior Extreme powder because its low in sugar and follows our national Anti-Doping regulations”.
At the World Championship, or the Paralympics, or the Commonwealth Games, you have to compete a lot in a very short space of time against the best in the world; do you snack during a competition or training, if so, what on?
“You'll find that a swimmer is always eating - even during training sessions. I always have a yoghurt or banana ready to go just in case my coach decides to give me an eight kilometre training session!”
Protein bars & shakes used to be the preserve of professional athletes, but have slowly become more mainstream and are used by almost everyone who heads to the gym regularly; what are your thoughts on protein bars & shakes?
“I think they are great for convenience. However, I am always wary about using supplements regularly because they are usually made from synthetic materials. If you are considering using protein supplements I strongly recommend you research them beforehand”.
Competing in a World Championship, or Paralympics or Commonwealth Games final is something that almost nobody else in the world will ever get to experience in their lifetime; how do you handle the pressure of competing at that level, in front of huge crowds of people both in the arena with you & watching at home?
“Performing in a final at a Paralympics or World Championships can be ruthless. Your competitors have peaked physically for the competition therefore its usually an athletes mindset that can be our downfall. I discovered that the hard way in Rio but finally got myself in the right head space for my last event of Games. I practiced resilience before the London Games but dropped the ball for Rio 2016 and I know this is something that I can work on heading into Tokyo 2020”.
Ellie, make us all feel a little better about ourselves; what is a Paralympic & World Champions cheat-day meal?
“Ha! I love this question because people are under the assumption that a professional athlete will watch everything that enters our mouth. It is not uncommon for an athlete to have their favourite chocolate in the fridge ready to go! Cooking is my favourite way to relax between training sessions and my cheat meal in kitchen is spaghetti and meatballs. It might not sound too bad, but when you load the meatballs with pancetta, bbq sauce and parmesan cheese then the calorie count can sneak up pretty quickly! Yummo!”
Do you have a favourite recipe, or a recipe that you rely on most often at home?
“I actually love making (and eating) minestrone. Theres always something so comforting about a hearty soup and minestrone is something that I make quite regularly. On Saturdays, I go to the market and stock my fridge with fresh vegetables for the week and cook myself a fresh loaf of Rye bread. With a minestrone, you can throw anything and everything into the soup and get your vitamins and minerals for the entire week in one serving!”