One in seven Australians live with hearing loss. In this article, we’ll introduce several other Aussie athletes with hearing loss to demonstrate that playing sports with hearing loss doesn’t have to mean making compromises.
Mackenzie Arnold has shared her journey with hearing loss on social media, including sharing the news that she was fitted with her first hearing aids in April this year.
The 29-year-old goalkeeper posted a video of her picking up her hearing aids with the caption: “Those closest to me know how long I’ve avoided this day, but here’s a little glimpse of a life-changing day for me. Yesterday I picked up my hearing aids, and although it’s something I’ll need to get used to, I couldn’t be more grateful for this little adjustment.”
Arnold’s brother has worn hearing aids since he was a child, but it wasn’t until the pandemic and the introduction of masks that Mackenzie realised how much she’d been relying on lip reading.
Swimmer Cindy-Lu Bailey has represented Australia in the Commonwealth Games and the Deaflympics and is known as one of the greatest swimmers in Australia’s history, with an astounding 29 medals.
Cindy-Lu is profoundly deaf and was not even able to hear the starting gun in swimming competitions. She now works as a teacher and a passionate advocate, encouraging deaf and hard-of-hearing children to get involved in sporting opportunities.
Track-and-field athlete Melinda Vernon has been deaf since birth and has participated in several Deaflympics events and other mainstream athletic competitions.
Vernon suffers from poor balance due to her hearing loss, which she counteracts with core stability exercises. She’s also admitted to finding it difficult to stay motivated during long runs without external noises to distract her.
The young athlete says, “I think if I wasn't deaf, I wouldn't be where I am. This has made me very motivated and determined to achieve more.”
Basketball player Sam Cartledge turned challenges into opportunities. Born with a severe hearing impairment, he cultivated a unique style of play, often relying on keen observation and court awareness more than most.
He has represented Australia five times and was named Male Athlete of the Year by Deaf Sports Australia.
Off the court, he's been an advocate for hearing-impaired sports, bringing awareness to the challenges and potential of athletes with hearing loss.
Star swimmer Alex Kirchner represented Australia at the young age of 12 at the 2015 World Deaf Swimming Championships and has gone on to compete in several more international events.
Alex says, “Being deaf doesn’t stop me. It doesn’t frustrate me at all, but it certainly drives me closer to achieving my goals.” He adds, “My absolute dream is to make the Olympic team.”
Olympic fencer Frank Bartolillo is profoundly deaf. He has claimed that being deaf gives him a competitive advantage, as he is not distracted by external crowd noise and is better able to focus on the competition.
The stories of these athletes with hearing loss show us that challenges can be faced head-on and overcome. Just like they didn't let hearing loss hold them back, you don't need to live with untreated hearing issues.
If you've noticed a change in your hearing or struggle in noisy environments, it might be time to act. Booking a hearing test
is a simple step that can make a significant difference. At Connect Hearing clinics across Australia, we're here to help. Don't wait; check your hearing and unlock a better quality of life.