Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

No Boundaries, No Limits; Tracy Barrell's Indomitable Spirit Continues to Inspire Others and Drive Her to New Goals

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

No Boundaries, No Limits; Tracy Barrell's Indomitable Spirit Continues to Inspire Others and Drive Her to New Goals

Article excerpt

Byline: Sue Gardiner

IT'S not politically correct to say so, but it would be easy to find Tracy Barrell annoying.

That's because the Banora Point resident, who was born with no legs and just one arm, renders many of our most common life complaints as weak as a limp lettuce leaf.

In a society where body image crises are seemingly epidemic, Tracy's Teflon-like confidence despite standing just 83cm tall is a revelation.

Do you find motherhood exhausting?

Well, try raising two sons single-handedly, literally, princess.

Are those aches and pains stopping you from getting fit?

Well, Tracy has dual Paralympics swimming gold medals, slacker. (She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1993 for her "outstanding contribution to sport" to boot.)

It's fair to say that Tracy is a one-woman reality check, so it's little wonder that she's also building a career in motivational speaking.

She takes the observation about some people potentially finding her achievements annoying in her stride.

"When I was doing a presentation at a school one of the kids did get up, and goes, 'Isn't there any disabled people who just do nothing?'" she recalls with a laugh.

You can understand the kid's exasperation. People like Tracy can make the rest of us feel inadequate.

Since the Tweed Daily News last caught up with her, she has almost finished a biography of her life, with the working title From Medals to Motherhood, which she's shopping around to publishers.

She now works three days a week as the volunteer co-ordinator at On Track Community Programs in Tweed Heads, which provides services to people with disabilities.

She turned 40 in June and says she's loving life more than ever and has never been more comfortable in her own skin.

She has raised her two boys, Bryce and Oscar alone after splitting with her partner.

They are now aged 13 and 10, a time when many kids start to feel embarrassed about their parents.

But Tracy, who scoots about on a skateboard, says there's no sign of that happening. …

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