Paralympians' Club

Isabel Newstead

Isabel had an incredible Paralympic career and despite being one of the unluckiest Paralympians to represent Great Britain still managed to win 10 gold medals across 5 Games from Arnhem in 1980 through to Athens in 2004.

  • Lives:
  • Date Of Birth:
    02/05/1955

Isabel competed at county level at non-disabled swimming before an illness caused an injury to her spinal column at the age of 19.

She competed at her first Paralympic Games in Arnhem in 1980, winning three gold medals and a silver in swimming and enjoyed similar success at the 1984 Games but this time adding a gold a shooting - a sport Isabel would later make her own.

At Seoul Isabel secured a bronze in the air pistol category but still found time win gold in athletics in the discus, setting a world record in the process. After the Seoul games Isabel married John Newstead, prior to that she had competed as Isabel Barr.

At the Barcelona and Atlanta Games, Isabel was dogged by ill-fortune leaving her without a medal from either Games - despite being ranked highly. In Barcelona an error made by her coach caused her to miss the final - she was top of the leader board at the end of the preliminaries. On the eve of the Opening Ceremony at the Atlanta Games, Isabel fell out of her of chair and broke her hip. Isabel refused anaesthetic as surgeons operated on her broken hip as she had concerns regarding the anaesthetic causing a positive finding at doping control. Competing each day with a broken hip left Isabel drained and she again finished outside the medals.

Undeterred and committed as ever, Isabel qualified for the Sydney Paralympic Games and secured gold in the air pistol SH1 category. Isabel successfully defended her Paralympic title four years later in Athens. Isabel received a Membership of the British Empire (MBE) from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2001.

In 2006 Isabel was diagnosed with cancer and she lost her fight against the illness in January 2007. To the end, Isabel’s goal was to retain her Paralympic title in Beijing and was learning Mandarin while she underwent chemotherapy.

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