In 2020 Kylie became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in Wheelchair Rugby. Although a mixed gender event, Wheelchair Rugby was predominantly made up of male players – Kylie was one of the pioneers to break that mould.
After a severe spinal injury in 2006, Kylie made her first appearance in the Paralympics in 2012 and in 2020 won her history-making gold in Tokyo. She said of winning, ‘Fifty emotions hit you at once. It’s an overwhelming feeling of relief and achievement’. And the feeling of doing that with a group of people with similar backgrounds made it even more special, ‘It’s amazing working on a team who have been through hell and back to get to where we are. After a catastrophic injury you don’t even know how to live. This team teaches you that’.
“Seeing the youngsters come through and look up to me is incredible. I do take that role very seriously. I want women to see there isn’t a difference in gender with wheelchair rugby.”
Winning an Olympic medal had long been a dream of Kylie’s. ‘From five years old I wanted to be an Olympic medallist. From the minute I could walk, run I was into sport.’ Before her accident she was a competitive 400m runner and when those plans were derailed, she found another route to glory.
Kylie is very serious about her status as a role model. ‘I’ve had so many girls contact me saying I’ve started because of you. I get emotional about that’. And the impact of her winning gold is not lost on her, ‘Seeing the youngsters come through and look up to me is incredible. I do take that role very seriously. I want women to see there isn’t a difference in gender with wheelchair rugby.’
Being part of a male dominated team could be daunting for some but not for Kylie ‘At times you have imposter syndrome being the only woman on a team of men thinking 'can I do this?', but I know I can. And the men have been great. They say to me when we’re on that court I’m going to hit you as hard as anyone else! Which is fantastic’.