Zali Steggall celebrates unseating former Prime Minster Tony Abbott ©Getty Images

Olympic Alpine skiing medallist Zali Steggall unseated former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott during the country's federal election.

Steggall, standing as an independent, claimed victory in the Warringah seat in the north of Sydney.

The 45-year-old, who won slalom bronze at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics, earned 58 per cent of the two-party preferred vote to remove Abbott who had held the seat since 1994.

Abbott suffered a swing against him of almost 20 per cent as Steggall, a barrister, ran a campaign with heavy emphasis on the environment.

This was seen as a key issue for voters with Abbott, who was Prime Minister between 2013 and 2015, previously declaring that climate change theories are "absolute cr**".

Zali Steggall won an Olympic bronze medal in Nagano in 1998 ©Getty Images
Zali Steggall won an Olympic bronze medal in Nagano in 1998 ©Getty Images

The defeat of Abbott, a member of the Liberal Party, did not stop the country's Liberal/National coaliton from winning the election in a surprise outcome which keeps Prime Minister Scott Morrison in power.

A year after her Olympic bronze medal in Nagano, Steggall was crowned world slalom champion in Vail in the United States.

She retired after the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with her success leading to a funding boost in Australian skiing.

In 2000, Steggall was part of the Torch Relay for the Summer Olympics in Sydney.

Her legal work saw her appointed as one of 12 worldwide arbitrators to the ad-hoc tribunal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport for Pyeongchang 2018.