It's not just Sarah's gold and bronze medals, won in the discus and shot-put events respectively, that make her a champion… It’s her enthusiasm for getting out there and having a go.
Diagnosed with a hearing loss at 10 months old and fitted with her first set of hearing aids at age five, Sarah’s hearing loss hasn’t stopped her from achieving anything she has put her mind to.
From swimming, cross-country and athletics at primary school, Sarah started playing netball and touch football at age 12 with DeafACT (a member of Deaf Sports Australia), who she says are very supportive.
“DeafACT has been lots of fun and very inclusive. You get to meet people from all around Australia who are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Sarah.
After four years competing at a local and national level, Sarah’s sports took her to this year’s Australian Deaf Games.
Held every four years, the Deaf Games is a pinnacle multi-sport Deaf event which more than 1,000 deaf and hard of hearing people attend to take part in to compete for the coveted Australian Deaf Federation Cup (JML Cup).
Australian Deaf Games
Managing Director of Australian Hearing Bill Davidson says the Australian Deaf Games embodies the spirit of living a positive and healthy lifestyle, which is an important message for people with hearing loss. As a Corporate Partner of the Games, Mr Davidson says it was inspiring to watch young Australian Hearing clients such as Sarah compete.
We are proud to have partnered with the Australian Deaf Games . It’s important to promote a positive lifestyle and the benefits of playing sport for long-term health and well-being, Mr Davidson said.
After competing in this year’s Deaf Games Sarah, who has been supported by Australian Hearing since she was first diagnosed, has researched the qualifying standards for the Deaflympics and has set competing there as a personal goal. She says young people with hearing loss should never feel afraid to participate in sports they love.
When playing my sports, I feel excited and nervous at the same time, but it is all about having fun, participating and having a sense of satisfaction and achievement, says Sarah Ashleigh.
Children and young adults up to the age of 26 years, with a permanent hearing loss, can receive free government funded hearing services through Australian Hearing. Find your nearest centre.