Don Elgin is many things. He’s a Paralympic medallist, motivational speaker, author, husband and proud dad of four. He’s also an ordinary bloke who’s managed to achieve some extraordinary things through hard work, grit and determination.
A true ‘glass half full’ type of guy, Don believes in turning challenges into opportunities. By sharing his story with audiences across Australia, he inspires others to do the same.
It all started with a dream and a dodgy artificial leg
Don’s story began in the rural town of Tocumwal in New South Wales. Born without the lower half of his left leg, Don was different to other kids… but it took him a while to catch on. It wasn’t until high school, when a mate mentioned the Paralympics, that Don considered he might be disabled. Even then, he had to be convinced.
He wasn’t old. He wasn’t in a wheelchair. He wasn’t missing out on life. In fact, he was kicking some able-bodied butt in footy, swimming and track and field. Sure, he had a dodgy artificial leg that wasn’t designed for more than walking, but Don showed that leg who was boss. Disabled? Don didn’t think so.
However, being ‘disabled’ opened up a whole new world of sporting opportunities. Before discovering the Paralympics, Don played sport purely for fun. There were no elite athletes in Tocumwal. But Don set his sights on being the first. His Paralympic dream was born and representing Australia became Don’s obsession.
Don went on to realise his dream, representing Australia for the first time at the World Championships in 1994 – and bagging a gold medal to boot. He has since competed in four World Championships and three Paralympic Games, medalling multiple times in pentathlon and relay events. He even competed in the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the ripe, old age of 38.
That’s 20 years after his national debut. Not bad for an old bloke.
Don’s sporting achievements
1996 (Atlanta, USA) – Pentathlon, Shot Put, Discus
2000 (Sydney, Australia) – Pentathlon (Bronze medal), 100m, 200m, 400m, Long Jump, Shot Put, Discus
2004 (Athens, Greece) – Pentathlon (Bronze medal), 4x100m (Bronze medal), 400x400m (Silver medal)
1994 (Berlin, Germany) – 4x100m (Gold medal), High Jump (Bronze medal), Shot Put
1998 (Birmingham, United Kingdom) – Pentathlon
2002 (Lille, France) – Pentathlon (Silver medal), 4x100m (Silver medal), 4x100m (Bronze medal) Long Jump
2006 (Assen, Netherlands) – Pentathlon
2014 (Glasgow, United Kingdom)– Discus
From the sporting podium to the speaking podium
Since retiring from sport, Don hasn’t strayed far from the podium. However, these days he stands behind it, rather than having one foot on top. As one of Australia’s favourite motivational speakers, Don captivates and inspires audiences at corporate events, sporting functions, schools and fundraisers.
Don’s warmth, honesty and determination inspire people to ‘have a go’, no matter what challenges they face. His witty humour and presentation style ensure people remember Don’s presentations, long after he’s left the podium.
Don also podiumed at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2016, scoring a silver medal for his autobiography, One Foot On The Podium.