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Old Rendcombian Success: Issy Bailey, Team GB

Old Rendcombian and Team GB Athlete, Issy Bailey, shares her inspirational story during an evening Q&A, with former teachers and pupils of Rendcomb College. 

Leadership, sportsmanship and community are three aspects that we at Rendcomb College adhere to when it comes to sport. Qualities that have certainly shone through a number of successful alumni including Paralympian, Issy Bailey.

At the age of 19 Issy was involved in a car accident which left her with a spinal cord injury where she now has no feeling or movement from the waist down. A wheelchair user that wouldn’t let her disability hinder her talents, her sporting abilities went from strength to strength. 

“Whilst I was recovering from my injury I found shooting. I went down for a trial session and the coach thought I had good natural ability. In a year I was on the GB team. I’ve done multiple world cups and qualifiers and in 2016 I was selected to go to the Rio Paralympic Games. 

“I qualified on a wild card entry and felt like Rio was a gift where they recognised the potential I had, so the goal was to win my own quota place and go forward on my own efforts. The Paralympic Games is like nothing I ever could have imagined, they are fantastic. After Rio the goal was Tokyo and I won my qualifying place at the world championships in Sydney in 2019. Tokyo feels like far more of an individual achievement.”

The Tokyo Paralympic Game were postponed in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was announced in January this year that will be going ahead as planned for 2021. The shooting team was the first to be officially announced in which there will be six shooters competing, including Issy. 

“We spent the last year mainly training from home. There has been no international competitions which is strange because we are used to going overseas seven to eight times a year. My biggest motivation is not the winning of the medals it’s being part of a Paralympic movement as a whole. It's important for me to spread the word about equal opportunities for people with disabilities to compete in sport and benefit from all the opportunities it can provide.”

Reflecting on those who inspire her, she said: “I’ve met a lot of people along the way that have been inspiring. Before my injury I was a big hockey player and admired Kate Richardson-Walsh. I watched her at the London Olympics when she broke her jaw and the next day she was still playing on the field. That dedication to the sport and the team, as well as the desire to represent the country is something I carry with me.”

Looking back on how her injury affected her life after Rendcomb College, she said: “It’s been a bumpy road but it’s a positive mindset that gets you through those tough times. Communicate with others and be patient. The kinder you are, the more willing people are to help. I was lucky to have a good support network. My advice to anyone, whether you’re looking for a career in sport or something entirely different is to have a clear path set out in front of you. To see yourself moving forward along that path will keep you motivated.”

We wish Issy all the best for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.