Shelby Newkirk • Saskatoon • Swimming
After she was diagnosed with dystonia (a neurological movement disorder) in 2010, Shelby Newkirk struggled to find the right sport for her. Then, in 2012, she tried para-swimming.
"Before I found para-swimming, I didn't know where I fit in. Finding para-sport helped me gain confidence, improved my self-esteem, and showed me that I can do anything I put my mind to," Newkirk said. "I have always been a very competitive person and when I started swimming I fell in love with it almost immediately."
From the beginning, the competitive aspect of swimming has kept Newkirk interested in the sport. Each time she hits the water, she looks to improve on her previous best time while also working toward being the fastest swimmer. She also loves the sense of community.
"Although we all are competing and trying to get to the wall first, we are still a tight knit community of people that support each other and care about one another," Newkirk said.
Newkirk is a finalist in the 2017 Female Athlete of the Year for the Saskatchewan Sport Awards-an annual awards program of Sask Sport Inc. designed to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of Saskatchewan amateur athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers.
She won gold and set a world record in the S7-100 Back at the Para-Swimming Canadian Open. She was named to the Canadian Para-Swimming Team for the World Para-Swimming Championships after finishing with gold medals in the S7-50 Free, S7-100 Free, S7-50 Back and S7-100 Back, and earning a bronze medal in the S7-50 Fly, at the Speedo Can AM Para Swimming Championships. She served as the Team Saskatchewan flagbearer at the closing ceremonies of the 2017 Jeux du Canada Games.
"To earn these achievements was an amazing feeling," she said. "To have worked so hard and for so many years, and then to see my dreams start to become a reality was incredible. This has been a great year and is a great stepping stone on my way to the Tokyo Paralympics."
Leading up to her Paralympic goal, Newkirk hopes to also compete in the 2018 Para Pan Pac games, the 2019 World Championships and 2019 Para Pan Am games. Outside of sport, she's currently working on her education degree and hoping to continue coaching.
"I want to set an example and show younger athletes that they can do anything that they put their mind to," she said. "With hard work and perseverance you can make your dreams happen."
What makes Shelby Newkirk #SaskProud?
"Saskatchewan may not be the biggest province, but that doesn't mean that we can't make a big impact on Canadian and worldwide sports. I was born in Saskatoon and am proud to represent this province as a member of Team Canada and as a competitor at various international events. I just want to say thank-you to everyone that has been a part of Saskatchewan sports. Without everyone involved in sport, I would have never had the opportunities that I have had to date. Saskatchewan is producing more and more sporting opportunities and more world class athletes, and it is because of the volunteers, coaches, officials and organizations in Saskatchewan sports. I can't say thank you enough to everyone."
For more information on our Saskatchewan Sport Awards program please visit www.sasksport.sk.ca/SportAwards. This program can also be found on social media in support of the #SaskSportAwards and the #SaskProud campaign on twitter @CSCSaskatchewan and Facebook CSC Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Lotteries is the main fundraiser for amateur sport in Saskatchewan. On behalf of over 300,000 registered participants, Sask Sport Inc. and its membership of provincial sport organizations, thank you for your support.