July 8, 2015 Rodney Cowled

How I Lost My Leg, Then Become a World-class Athlete, Twice.


Not many people can say that they’ve achieved not one, but two, of their biggest life goals all before their 25th birthday; Scott Reardon can. 

Only a decade earlier Scott was involved in a traumatic farming accident; one which resulted in him losing the lower half of his right leg. Add this to the fact that Scott is now one of Australia’s top Paralympic Athletes, who holds multiple records and medals, (not just in athletics but also, of all things, water skiing) and you’ve got all the ingredients for an incredibly inspiring story.

What appeared to be ultimate devastation, was merely the first step in a journey, in the making of an incredible man.

I’m humbled and inspired to be have played witness to this story over the last 2 decades and it’s the greatest privilege to share a little of what Scott’s learned with you.

It is our hope that the below stories and lessons from Scott’s life will inspire those who need it, encourage those who right now are facing their own adversity, and maybe even bring a tear to your eye.

Without further ado…

Enter Scott Reardon

Seek help, don’t do it alone.

There was a time for me, only 12 months ago when everything was going great; training was better than ever, my first race was only a week away. Then I got injured. At first it was nothing to worry about, a small strain that would be over in a week.

Yet, one week turned into two, two weeks became months and eventually the season was over and I couldn’t race. I was devastated, after all racing is what I love.

By having the right people around me, I could talk to them and get perspective, see the bigger picture. Getting injured is never great, but when it happened was actually great timing for where I would go next. Sometimes, it takes someone outside of the situation to see that. 

The highs and especially the lows in life are inevitable. But we don’t have to, and shouldn’t go through these on our own. I’ve learnt that the ability to reach out to certain people, the right people, is crucial to be able to overcome difficulties. Have a good support network, from close peers to family members you can talk too. When things are “bad”, the perspective of this support network around you is very important if you’re going to overcome adversity.

Be optimistic.

When I look back at the past 13 years, I’m really glad that I have always been an optimistic person. I remember sitting in a hospital bed as a 12 year old, my right leg amputated. At that point I was faced with a choice; I could be a pessimist, or I could be an optimist. Sure, there was a brief period where I thought, “why me”, but I quickly realized that wasn’t how I approached life and quickly the attitude turned to “why not me”. I might have been young and probably a little naive, but at that point I resolved that I was going to live a normal & great life.

Believing in yourself is one of the biggest keys to getting through any circumstance or problem you might face. The longer you believe you can’t overcome the negative, you’ll stay there. The more you believe things will improve, the greater chance they will. Don’t underestimate the power of optimistic thinking. 

Accept the negative, whatever that may be.

It might sound counter-intuitive, but accepting that the past has happened, will help you move beyond the negative. The faster you can accept it, the sooner your new life can be lived. I have met many people that have been through trauma or illness that lead to varying disabilities. The ones that didn’t accept that the negative situation happened were the ones that struggled their way through years of negativity on their way to acceptance.

You might not like what has happened to you, but sitting at home being negative about it for years and years is not the solution. Life will roll on regardless of your attitude. I absolutely believe that letting go is vital to moving on, but it is almost impossible to move on without acceptance of the negative.

Set Goals, the path into a negative can be fast, unexpected, uncontrollable. The path to normality, can be slow, difficult and seemingly endless.

Setting short and long term goals can make this journey easier. As an athlete at a professional level we always have goals. The little goals are so important because the big end goal could realistically be 4, 8 or 10 years away. The little day to day, week to week, year to year goals make it possible to keep my focus on what I want to achieve.  

Regardless of whether you are a proactive goal setter, or not, we all set goals.  If you lose your job, you may not say your goal is to find another, but at the end of that day subconsciously or consciously you want to get a new one, so you have set the goal. Then you break that into little goals; looking for a new position, applying for it, going for the interview, maybe getting a rejection letter, but ultimately keeping your eyes focused on the end goal.

Keep perspective; looking at your situation and the bigger picture, could things be worse?

The answer is always a big yes! Realising that the situation is not as bad as what you think, makes you more resilient. There was a saying that used to be popular over the last few years and I for one am so happy we’ve moved on. You might have heard it…”FML”.

For me it was used by people so out of touch with reality, who had no idea what other people were dealing with and ultimately, no perspective. I have always had the attitude that no matter how bad things were, I had to keep it in perspective.

No matter how bad things seemed, there was always someone in a worse situation.

View change as a challenge!

Who decided a negative situation had to be a bad thing? When things go in a different direction, this shouldn’t mean that things are changing for the worse. Viewing the change as a challenge is a great way to overcome it. You might just come out on the other side as a better person.

At the end of the day it’s on you to want to turn things around. Have you been told you can’t do something? That you’re incapable of doing it? I have. You can either accept that is the truth, or you can challenge yourself to prove that you can do it.

I for one can’t accept people telling me what I am capable of!




A positive mindset and attitude, I believe is the key to all success. I am resilient because I am positive.

One of the best skills that someone can have is to look at a negative situation & find the positive, because there’s always one. Learn from the negative and move on. I believe that my life is better because I am positive.

If you have ever listened to a good motivational speaker, you may not remember too much of their message, but one thing is for sure, you’ll remember how they made you feel. Just like negativity, positivity is contagious. Surround yourself with positive people, and over time they’ll squash the negativity right out of you.

Some of the people I have spent time with in the past could be really negative. The more time I spent with them, the more I found myself feeling unhappy. I realized it was changing me & I didn’t like it. Since I decided to surround myself with positive people, the positive things seemed to come my way more often.  For me, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful girlfriend that without ever trying, keeps me positive.

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Comments (2)

  1. David Lee

    As always Scott, an inspiration, and from a true gentleman as well. It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet you, and be there to at the odd ski tourneys from time to time. All the best to you for the future.

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