Power of the mind wins top awards for Notre Dame nursing student against the odds

Two silver medals and a new world record – it’s all in a day’s work for Notre Dame nursing student Belinda Sidman who has just returned triumphant from the
World’s Disabled Water Championships in America.

26 October 2015

Nursing student Belinda Sidman from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Sydney Campus, has picked up two silver medals in this month’s World Disabled Water Championships in America. Belinda won an individual Silver Medal in Slalom breaking her Australian record and with Australia placing second overall, won a Silver Team Medal.

“It was my goal to break my Australian record on the world stage so I'm over the moon that I could achieve this in front of the best of the best; I couldn't have skied any better,” Belinda, a below knee amputee, said. Belinda was one of 12 Australian skiers at the recent World Championships, with 49 international competitors representing 11 nations. All competitors had varying levels of disability from visually impairment to muscular dystrophy to quadriplegics - all classified into one division.

This isn’t the first time Belinda has had success on the international stage. Skiing competitively for eight years, she also won bronze in the 2011 World Championships in the individual slalom event, and took home bronze in the individual slalom and a team bronze with the Australian team third overall in 2013.

Belinda had her lower right leg amputated following a horrendous car accident in 1991 when she was 16. She suffered complex pelvic fractures and almost lost her leg left, which is still compromised. Now fitted with a prosthetic limb, Belinda said it was power of the mind that kept her going and helps her get around.

And, it was the accident that led her indirectly to competitive water skiing. Belinda’s talent and perseverance was discovered after playing about on a hydrofoil ski back in 2007 on the Hawkesbury River when the President of Sydney Water Ski Club saw her and put her in contact with the Australian Water-ski Disabled Division.

“I had always wanted to water ski but didn’t have opportunity prior to the accident,” she said.

“They sent me a modified sit ski, I got up on my third attempt and the rest is history. It was a dream come true when I got the chance to ski, and found I could do it and loved it and I’m very competitive!”

Belinda’s decision to pursue nursing was also a direct result of her accident. She spent seven months in Westmead Hospital recovering from the accident during which time she felt she too could help others as the nurses had helped her.

“It was a bit of a journey though, as I initially thought nursing would be too physical demanding for me, so I took an office job after leaving hospital,” Belinda said. “I eventually pursued nursing via a Certificate III and worked in an aged care nursing home and loved it, which in turn open doors for me to become an enrolled nurse at 35 years of age, working in Bowral Hospital.”

Belinda went on to enrol in a Bachelor of Nursing in 2013, choosing Notre Dame because of the calibre of the trainee nurses from the University that she had come across during her recovery.

“The Notre Dame students really stood out and I wanted to learn from the best to become the best,” Belinda said. A part-time student from Buxton, Belinda is due to graduate in 2017. But first, there is the 2017 World Games with Australia to host at the Myuna Bay Sports Centre on the NSW Central Coast, where Belinda hopes to score gold in front of a home crowd.

Associate Professor Tracey Moroney, Dean of the School of Nursing, Sydney, congratulated Belinda and praised her achievements and spirit. “Belinda has such a positive attitude to life and she applies this attitude to her studies, she is an engaged and interested student who is doing very well in the Bachelor of Nursing. She is an inspiration to us all,” Associate Professor Moroney said.

As Notre Dame is a direct entry university, you can still apply for 2016. Apply direct – www.notredame.edu.au

Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093; leigh.dawson@nd.edu.au