YOUNGEST GUN HOPES TO MAKE A BIG SPLASH
WHEN she was younger Isabella Vincent wanted to be a hairdresser, a psychiatrist or a biologist.
Then she decided being a vet would be her career of choice and would dress up in a costume while practising for the future.
At no stage did Vincent ever think she would be a Paralympian – let alone the youngest one to represent Australia at the Tokyo Games.
Vincent, who will be competing before she even turns 16, only tried swimming seriously for the first time three years ago.
She was initially turned off the sport because she is unable to kick.
Now, however, she has a big schedule of events to contest at her first Games. She also has a big name in her corner.
“Kurt Fearnley is the only person I know with the same condition,” Vincent said of the Paralympics great from Newcastle who has conquered the Kokoda Trail, Sydney to Hobart yacht race, the toughest marathons in the world and won bagfuls of medals in wheelchair racing.
The 15-year-old was born with sacral agenesis, which means her spine stops above her sacrum and she is missing calf muscles and ligaments.
“I don’t have muscles, my feet are at 90 degrees and I can’t move my feet or toes,” she said.
“I’m in a chair all the time so when I get the opportunity to get out of the chair and do something like swimming, it’s so cool.”
Vincent and Fearnley have struck up a relationship, with the teenager hoping to try wheelchair sport on her return from the Paralympics.
Australian swimmers have enjoyed extraordinary success since the first Paralympics in Rome back in 1960. In all, they have won 138 golds, 150 silver and 132 bronze medals.