Paralympian Tiffany Thomas Kane

INSPIRING: Tiffany Thomas Kane trains at Warringah Aquatic Centre.
INSPIRING: Tiffany Thomas Kane trains at Warringah Aquatic Centre.

The way Tiffany Thomas Kane looks at it, you're the one with the problem if you think she's got a problem.

Thomas Kane was born with hypochondroplasia, a big word that comes with big challenges. "Hypochondroplasia is a form of dwarfism. My legs and arms (are smaller) but my torso is normal," the 134cm swimmer explained.

It mattered little as Thomas Kane bagged bronze at Tokyo on friday.

Kane lined up in the SM7 200 metres individual medley and was part of a heart-stopping surge to the line.

While American Mallory Weggemann was a clear winner, just 0.34 seconds separated the next three swimmers, while 15-year-old Australian Isabella Vincent was sixth.

Thomas Kane continues to destigmatise and educate through her exploits in the pool.

The 20-year-old, who trains under Jon Bell at the Warringah Aquatic Centre, is in Tokyo for her second Paralympic campaign. She wants to use her time on the global stage to make a difference for those with differences.

"In the pool I have no challenges at all. I really feel like just a normal person floating in the water, which I love about swimming," she said.

"Outside of the pool I do find challenges along the way... with being different compared to others. I did get bullied as a kid. I wasn't confident. I knew people were looking at me and saying things. But I never listened to them. I take my own advice and do what I want to do. What they're thinking is not what I'm thinking."

Thomas Kane entered the water at around four years of age, partly on the advice of doctors but also to ward off boredom as she waited for her sister's swimming lessons to end. By 2012, when she was just 11, the tenacious primary school student was considered a chance to compete at the London Paralympics, but was not sent due to her tender age.

By Rio 2016 there was no holding her back. Thomas Kane won gold in the 100m breaststroke and will defend her title in Tokyo, as well as competing in the 200m individual medley and 50m butterfly.

She said: "Swimming helped build my confidence and it makes me feel honoured to be a role model. I think my story can help others. Nothing can stop you from doing what you want to do."

This story Bronze medallist Thomas Kane educates, too first appeared on Northern Beaches Review.