Kathy Newman introduces the world to Canada

Canadian Paralympic Committee

November 11, 2019

I’m all about legacies that come out of hosting.''

When she reviews her past accomplishments in sport, Kathy Newman doesn’t hesitate to pinpoint what gave her the most satisfaction. 



‘’I am a firm believer in event hosting,’’ said Newman, who is one of seven inductees in the 2019 Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame class and is being honoured in a builder’s role for her four decades of pioneering wheelchair sport development in Canada. 

Newman worked for 31 years with the BC Wheelchair Sports Association, including the last 26 as executive director. She retired seven years ago from the position but is still carrying the torch high and proud for wheelchair sports as a consultant.

‘’There’s so much an organization can benefit from hosting an event. I’m all about legacies that come out of hosting. When you host an event, it’s a reason to talk to people, engage with government at different levels, to reach potential sponsors and the community and to celebrate achievements of the athletes when they perform on home soil.’’

She was quick to capitalize on those opportunities when Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. 

‘’Back then in the early 2000s we didn’t have any experience in hosting international events, so we needed to challenge ourselves. There was a need for high level international competition in wheelchair rugby and we introduced the Canada Cup tournament in 2004 [which still runs today]. We started to position ourselves with knowledge and intel when it comes to hosting international events. 

‘’That set us up to eventually win the bid to host the wheelchair rugby world championships in 2010. That was a huge highlight in my career. Hosting that event set up BC Wheelchair Sport with a really positive reputation in the sport system and it demonstrated our ability to deliver an exceptional event.’’

Newman started in wheelchair sports in 1981. She was president of the Langley Mustangs Track and Field Club. For its annual track and field meet that year, the club decided to include a Para component because it was the International Year of the Disabled. Among those showing up for this special occasion were Rick

Hansen and Daniel Wesley, who would both become wheelchair athletic and skiing stars.

‘’It was one of the first integrated track meets that I was ever aware of,’’ she said. ‘’That was pretty special.’’

Her liaison with BC Wheelchair Sports at the time was Laurel Crosby, in what would be the start of a near 40-year friendship so far as they helped lead wheelchair sports development in BC and across the country. Both are currently on Wheelchair Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors, Crosby as president and Newman vice-president. 

‘’Laurel has been a key person in my career since day one,’’ said Newman. ‘’Laurel and I continue to this day to work on projects together and chair on different committees. We’re still going strong. She’s a major influence.

‘’I must admit a lot of my role models are women such as mentors that have really helped me along the way. I feel fortunate to have been connected with so many amazing women in my career.’’

Newman will be officially inducted into the Canadian Paralympic Hall of Fame at a ceremony on November 15 in Vancouver. 

For more information: https://paralympic.ca/canadian-paralympic-hall-fame-and-sport-awards

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