Greatest moments in Otago sport - Number 132

Hayden Meikle counts down the 150 greatest moments in Otago sport.

No 132: Jenny Newstead's Paralympics domination (1992-1996)

Jenny Newstead shows off the medals she won at the 1996 Olympic Games. Photo from the <i>ODT</i> Files.
Jenny Newstead shows off the medals she won at the 1996 Olympic Games. Photo from the ODT Files.
Jenny Newstead was a disabled swimmer who had an outstanding record and won 10 medals at Paralympic Games.

In Barcelona in 1992, the Duncan Laing-coached swimmer won four gold medals and a silver medal.

Four years later, in Atlanta, Newstead won five more medals - three gold, a silver and bronze.

She was versatile and swam the backstroke, freestyle, breaststroke and individual medley events. In 1994 she won two gold and four silver medals at the world championships in Malta.

It was not generally realised that Newstead, who suffers from reflex sympathetic motor dystrophy, did not have enough power in her arms to lift herself out of the pool. If she fell out of her wheelchair she had to call for help.

This made it even more remarkable that she broke 37 world records in her career.

Newstead, who was awarded an MBE in 1993, retired from Paralympics competition after losing the use of her right arm in a wheelchair accident in 1997.

She was only able to use one arm after her accident and was tempted to retire from all swimming. She carried on swimming at a lower level to encourage other swimmers with disabilities and help coach Duncan Laing.