Isis Holt just won the Commonwealth IPC award for the 100 meters earlier this week. Stuart Weir has seen her run on three continents, and he writes a strong piece for her consideration, especially as she is only sixteen years old!
Considering Isis Holt
Isis Holt is the Commonwealth Champion in the 100m (T35 class). I have watched Isis Holt run in 4 continents – and she is just 16! I first came across her in the IPC World Championship in Doha 2015, then at the Rio Paralympics in 2016, the London IPC Worlds in 2017 and now in her own country in the Commonwealth Games. Incidentally in those three previous events she picked up four World Championships gold medals and two Paralympic silvers and a bronze.
I asked her about her strange life, travelling the world to run at such a young age: “It is pretty incredible”, she said, “and sometimes I think I am missing out on teenage life. But who would go for that [normal teenage life] over this. It is incredible and I would not change it for anything”. There is always a risk in writing about disability that one seems patronizing but this seems a great example of taking a positive out of what is potentially a negative. She has two mottos which confirm this attitude: “My ability is bigger than my disability” and “Yes I can”.
She also finds ways of balancing schoolwork and sport: “It gets pretty tricky, but all of my teachers and my coach help me manage it and at the end of the day it does not seem so hard”.
A comment she made to me in Doha (2015) shows that she has her feet firmly on the ground: “It’s crazy to think that I have to go back to school next week. Everyone at home is going to be so excited, but hopefully I settle back in pretty quick. When I boarded that plane to Doha, winning gold medals and breaking world records was the last thing on my mind. To be here has been a fantastic experience for me, and today see the results of months of hard work. It is amazing and I just can’t believe it!”
For some reason the T35 sprint is dominated by teenagers, something that Holt enjoys: “It is nice. I feel I am around people my own age. It makes it less scary that we are all together and we are all young and there to achieve the same goal. That is pretty cool”.
I wrote this paragraph about the Rio Paralympics: “What do five teenagers do on a Wednesday morning? Well if they happen to be in Rio they could take part in the Women’s (or should I say girls’?) T35 100 metres race. The winner was Xia Zhou of China (aged 17) in a new Paralympic record of 13.66, with Isis Holt of Australia (15) second and Britain’s Maria Lyle (16) third”.
So having won major medals in three continents how was it to win at home? “Nothing beats the feeling of running around the track on home soil. It was amazing. I’ve had some pretty good medal ceremonies in my athletics career, but that was just so powerful. Standing up there, hearing other Aussies singing the national anthem, I had to try hard not to cry. That was so awesome knowing that friends and family that often hear about what I can do, and usually who watch me on live stream, got to watch me live. That’s what makes me the most proud – showing them ‘this is what I can do and how I do it'”.
While Isis Holt is a talented and world class athlete her response to one question after her victory did give away ways in which she is a little different from some elite athletes. Asked how she would celebrate the victory, she replied: “Chocolate is definitely on the menu. I’ve been hanging out for some chocolate and chocolate milk.”
She has an excellent website https://www.isisholt.com I would particularly recommend her account of preparing for a race: https://www.isisholt.com/single-post/2017/10/10/Race-Day