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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Melissa Paula Carlton OAM

Melissa Paula Carlton OAM

Member 2005

b. 8 May 1978

Melissa started to make her mark in local swimming events when she first competed with distinction against able bodied athletes in both pool and open water events, winning a gold medal in the 8 klm Tasmanian outdoor championships in 1991.

At the 1994 commonwealth Games in Edmonton, invitation events were included for athletes with a disability. Melissa was selected to represent Australia and she won her first international gold medal in the 100 metres freestyle.

It was at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games, however, where she really excelled against the best in the world, winning gold medals in the 400 metres freestyle and as a member of the victorious Australia 4x100metres freestyle relay. Melissa also won silver medals in the 100 metres individual freestyle and butterfly events and a bronze medal in the 100 metres backstroke. These outstanding feats were acclaimed by all Tasmanians.

With these wonderful results to her credit, Melissa was chosen again to swim for Australia in 1999 and won further medals at the German championships with a gold and a silver, then a gold, silver and bronze at the British titles. In the World Wheelchair Games in New Zealand in the same year when she was co-captain of the Australian team, she won an incredible 5 gold medals.

Her international career concluded at the hugely successful 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games with 2 silver medals and 2 bronze. These individual successes included 4 Australian records.

It was no surprise that further honours came to Melissa following her retirement. In 1996 she was named Tasmanian Institute of Sport female athlete of the year, the Tasmanian Sportswoman of the Year, and was the Hobart City Council Young Citizen of the Year. But her crowning Award come in the honours list of that year when she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to swimming and her outstanding success as an athlete with a disability.

In her career, Melissa epitomized all that is good about Australian sport. She was young, successful and personable, but above all else, she was an outstanding role model for all young athletes whether they were able-bodied or athletes with a disability.