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Paralympian Profile

Eltje Malzbender #220

Nicole Murray poses on the podium with two other Para athletes after winning gold

Eltje lives with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) after a crash during a training ride. Her recovery from a coma was classified as the lowest survivable outcome.

Eltje’s TBI means she has challenges with many aspects of mobility and life. She was unable to speak after her accident and patiently re-learned, along with having no short term memory, double vision, and other mental and physical challenges. However, she is renowned for her determination and work-ethic, which hasn’t changed. Eltje works constantly to improve her abilities for hours every day and views the world and its challenges more profoundly than most.

Despite doctors’ skepticism, she was introduced to riding a tricycle in the velodrome in Cambridge by coach, Michael Bland.

Attitude’s 2018 documentary on Eltje, “Life after a brain injury”. See more great Attitude documentaries.

Eltje was selected on the HPSNZ Pathway to Podium programme with Paralympics New Zealand in 2018. In 2019, she won two rainbow jerseys and two gold medals at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships.

Making her Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, Eltje superbly navigated a very technical course to finish the Women’s T1-2 Time Trial in 5th place, with a time of 38:52.55.

In 2022, Eltje completed a sterling World Cup series with a silver medal in each of her six events, earning her the coveted series jersey. She followed this up with a bronze medal win in the 2022 Para Cycling Road World Championships. In 2023 the now-62-year-old athlete showed competitors half her age that she had no intention of slowing down. Eltje claimed silver medals in both her events at the World Championships.

Paralympic Results
Paralympic GamesResult
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
  • 5th – Women’s T1-2 Time Trial

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    • Hometown: Cambridge

    • Born: 15 May 1962

    • Eligible Impairment: Ataxia

    • Health Condition: Traumatic brain injury

    • Coach: Vicki Fleming

    • Classification: T1

    • Games Year: Tokyo 2020

    • Para Sport: Para cycling

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