Nicole Livingstone OAM

Nicole Livingstone has inspired a nation with her swimming. But for Nicole, 34, her greatest inspiration is her late mother's outlook on life.

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Elsie Livingstone passed away from ovarian cancer in 2001, motivating Nicole and her sister Karen to pay tribute to their mother through the formation of the National Ovarian Cancer Network. "For me, my mum was a strong role model in my life," Nicole said. "She was the kind of woman who would get things done."

The not-for-profit network aims to raise awareness of the disease that kills 800 Australian women a year. "The goal is to make women aware of their ovaries and the symptoms of ovarian cancer and then empower them to do something," Nicole said. She gains great satisfaction from knowing the organisation had made a real difference. "We know that we have saved lives, because we have received letters from women saying that," she said.

Nicole's career achievements include competing at three Olympic Games and three Commonwealth Games and being the only female host for Wide World of Sports television sports program. But she said it was work with the network that had brought her great rewards. "You only realise when you lose someone close that sport is just sport, the true heroes are people saving lives and making a difference to other people's lives."

Nicole is now a mother herself - to twins Ella and Josh who are 3½ years. She hopes to teach her children what her mother taught her - to be nice people and try to make a difference. The children sponsor twins in Ethiopia through World Vision, helping them form a social conscience. "We just want them to be the best people they can be, and think of the bigger picture," she said.