Karni Liddell has already established herself as one of Australia's most successful and well-respected Paralympic swimmers of our time. Karni's journey to success began a lot differently than the typical elite athlete. Karni was diagnosed at birth with a degenerative muscle wasting disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Many Doctors and specialists told her amazing parents that their first-born child would not walk, sit up or live past her teenage years. In fact many specialists told Terri and Jeff Liddell to make their daughter as comfortable as possible, as exercise only makes this condition worse. Karni's parents started her on a 'crazy' self-invented rehabilitation program which soon helped them realise that one of the greatest pleasures in life is achieving things people say can't be done!


Not only did Karni walk she also established herself as one of the best swimmers in the world. Karni broke her first world record at the age of 14 and went into the Sydney Paralympic Games as the fastest woman in the world for all her events. Karni was also voted in by her teammates to be one of the Australian team captains.  Karni participated in many modeling photo shoots and magazines including a 6-page bikini spread for Inside sport, a Paralympic body-painting calendar and Black and White Magazine. Karni wanted people to understand that accidents and disability don't discriminate it chooses beautiful people every single day. Karni's preparation for Sydney was extremely difficult and she realised during this time exactly what Spinal Muscular Atrophy meant.

Karni's story is filled with 'edge of your seat' unbelievable drama and circumstances, more importantly she demonstrates the power of belief and choice. Karni will have you crying one minute and then laughing out loud. The triumph of the human spirit prevails in Karni's story. Karni is now a presenter on 4BC radio and worked as a commentator at the Athens Paralympic Games, at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and at the World Swimming Championships. More amazingly, Karni was employed by Westpac Bank to raise $1million for the Australian Paralympic team to go to Athens. The Australian team desperately needed the money; otherwise the team would have been downsized dramatically. Karni had a huge target and goal, to raise $1million in 4 months. With the help of the Westpac team Karni traveled the countryside telling her story and fundraising and after an epic tour she was able to give the Australian Paralympic team enough money for them all to experience the Paralympic dream.

Karni is the Ambassador for Clubs Queensland, Day of Difference Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association and ACPET. Karni demonstrates to everybody who hears her story that each and every one of us has a choice in life and that our choices should not be determined by our circumstances.

Karni Liddell speaker

Speaker Video

Other speakers you might like:

Cate Campbell

Cate’s dominance in the pool began at a young age, rising through the ranks to win two gold medals as a 13 year-old at the Australian Age Championships to put herself squarely on the national team radar as one to watch. By the age of 16, she had broken the Australian & Commonwealth 50m Freestyle records and earned selection at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she displayed remarkable maturity and poise on the biggest stage in world sport to win Bronze medals in the 50m Freestyle and 4 x 100m Freestyle events.

Ariarne Titmus

Ariarne Titmus has quickly become the star of the Australian sporting landscape off the back of her dual gold medal winning efforts in the 200m & 400m freestyle events at the Tokyo Olympics, defeating five-time Olympic champion and all-time great Katie Ledecky. The 400m freestyle battle between Titmus and Ledecky in Tokyo has been reported the as one of the greatest Olympic races & rivalries of all time, with U.S broadcaster NBC reporting an average TV audience of 16.2million viewers, firmly placing Ariarne’s profile on the international stage. Outside of the pool Ariarne has all the attributes we love in our champions – she is ambitious yet humble, passionate yet measured, with a maturity beyond her years. She is an articulate and insightful speaker & relishes in her responsibility as a role model to future generations. Ariarne is passionate about her cooking and recipe development, health & wellness, and has studied exercise & sports science at QUT before deferring her studies to focus on swimming. Ariarne is available for Q&A sessions Australia-wide.

Dean Boxall

Dean Boxall is the head coach at the revered swim program at St Peters Western and responsible for the exhilarating performances of Ariarne Titmus at Tokyo 2020 and her rise to the top of the swimming ranks.

Abbey Gelmi

Abbey is an outstanding and experienced MC and is available to MC at various events Australia-wide. Abbey is also a part of the wider Seven Sport family being a part of the network’s AFL, Motorsport, Cricket and Racing coverage throughout the year. Having worked nationally as a presenter, host, MC and report, Abbey not only brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to any role.

Mark Matthews

Mark has taken himself from a penniless want-to-be surfer to an international brandname, part time philosopher, story teller, big wave surfing legend and all round good guy.

Back to Top /**/