Ellie Cole’s 'out of body experience' watching 'Rising Phoenix'

'I think people who watch the film, particularly those who aren’t fans already, are going to finally understand that the Paralympic Movement is really multi-dimensional' 18 Sep 2020 By Sascha Ryner

Australian Paralympic champion Ellie Cole believes that Netflix’s Rising Phoenix has the potential to  catapult the Paralympic movement to a whole new level. And she can’t wait to see that happen.

“I’m so excited for it to run on Netflix. I just want the whole world to see,” Cole said.

“The first time I watched it, I was sitting there thinking these are just nine of thousands and thousands of athletes that have incredible stories. There are so many more.

“I think people who watch the film, particularly those who aren’t fans already, are going to finally understand that the Paralympic Movement is really multi-dimensional. It’s actually so cool.”

Rising Phoenix, that is on air in 190 countries across the globe features Cole, alongside fellow Australian teammate and Wheelchair Rugby ace Ryley Batt, Italian wheelchair fencer Bebe Vio, Para-powerlifter Cui Zhe from China, USA’s Para archer Matt Stutzman and Para athletes Jean Baptiste Alaize (France), Jonnie Peacock (UK), Ntando Mahlangu (South Africa) and Tatyana McFadden (USA).

Cole, who is currently training for her fourth Paralympic campaign said the documentary will give the global audience a new insight into the growth of the Movement, and has made her prouder than ever to be a Paralympian.

“When I see a piece of work like this one, and especially something that a brand like Netflix is taking up, I think back to when I was nine or 10 years old and not knowing that Para sport even existed,” she said.

“I’ve seen the evolution to what it has become to the point where there’s a Netflix documentary and that is something else. It makes me proud because I’ve seen it change so dramatically. I know what it used to be like.”


Although COVID-19 has made it impossible for the nine starring athletes to watch the film together, Cole said watching it for the first time was comparable to an “out of body experience.”

“It sounds a little anti-climactic, but I was at home by myself watching it with my dogs,” she said.

“But it was still pretty special. I was talking to Ryley and I was messaging Bebe at the same time. When I was watching it, they were like “you’re amazing,” and I was like “no, you’re amazing,” and it was kind of cool watching it and being able to message the other athletes saying what you liked about their parts.”

Cole’s family, who are all still under strict lockdown in Melbourne, Victoria were also privy to watching it ahead of its release.

“My sister is proud. She’s going around saying, 'Do you have a sister that’s in a Neflix documentary? Because I do.' And my mum, she cried a handful of times.”

Cole revealed, she was chocking with emotions when she saw some of the footage.

“Seeing things for the first time was an out of body experience. The viewer will see and hear things about me for the first time, but I did too. And seeing them in a documentary setting that was made so well was so emotional,” Cole said.

“There’s footage of my mum’s reaction to me winning my first gold medal in London. I’ve never seen that before. That was my sister's footage. Whenever I think about me swimming and my race and winning my first gold medal, I never ever thought about what happened to mum on the spectator side of things.

“So when I saw mum tearing up, it made me tear up. I made her proud.”

Cole is also excited for the world to see one of her favourite scenes, which is also one of the cover posters for the film.



“There’s a bit in the film where I’m swimming under water. It doesn’t go for very long, but the effort the crew put into filming that shows how much work went into the production of the film,” she said.

“It only goes for about 20 seconds, but it was an all day shoot. It was the day after competition, I was so tired.

“I was in this big fish tank made of glass so they could film from all angles. They had all the lights off and a light shining in. I'd do a breath hold and they put me under for like a minute and then do the shot and then back up again. But it was so deep, that some of the way down I had to pop my ears.

“I could tell the producers were a perfectionist, so I knew the final product was going to be really polished and really good.”

Seeing the poster itself was so special says Cole. “It’s the strangest thing, but I always forget that I have one leg. When I see photos like that, I’m like ‘boom, there it is.’ It looks so cool.

“I’m really proud of the production, I’m really proud of all the athletes that have been featured, and I know when I get to Tokyo, I’m going to be really excited for all of us to get together.”