News / Sport

Lightning Holt strikes in Tokyo

Former Brunswick student now sets her sights on Paris in 2024

Isis Holt celebrates her silver medal in the T35 200m.
Isis Holt celebrates her silver medal in the Women’s 200m – T35 final on Sunday. Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Staff reporter
Tuesday, August 31, 2021


FORMER Brunswick high school student Isis Holt will return home from Japan with two more Paralympics silver medals to add to her collection.

The 20-year-old, who lives with cerebral palsy, set personal bests for both the T35 100m and 200m track events. Both times, she was pipped for the gold by her arch-rival, China’s Xia Zhou. The T35 classification is for athletes who have a co-ordination impairment.

Now based in Brisbane to be closer to her coach Paul Pearce, Holt graduated from Brunswick Secondary College in 2019.

Holt looked set for the gold medal in the 100m on August 27 after blitzing the field and setting a new Paralympics record of 13.49 seconds in her heat.

But in the final that night, she was slow out of the starting blocks in lane 5 and although she made up ground, she was unable to close the gap, losing to Zhou by 0.13 seconds. Zhou’s 13.0 seconds smashed the world record for the event, while Holt best her own personal best.

Two days later, it was again Zhou who denied Holt of a first gold medal, this time in the 200m. The Chinese athlete won the 200m in a world record time of 27.17 seconds, with Holt running the event in 27.94.

Tokyo is Holt’s second Paralympics. She represented Australia at Rio De Janeiro at the tender age of 14 in 2016, where she also won silver medals in the same events, along with a bronze in the 4x100m relay.

She has also won gold medals at the Doha and London world championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane in her two main disciplines.

While her family was living in Brunswick, Holt first took up sprinting as a student Melbourne Girls Grammar. She transferred to Brunswick Secondary College in year 9, and completed VCE there in 2019.

She took time off from the track during her final two years of school, setting her sights on the Tokyo Games which were delayed from 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I always used to talk about wanting to do normal teenage stuff,” she told the Athletics Australia website last year.

“I was keen to have the opportunity to be a normal kid, and then I did that for a year, and I realised my values.

“I realised how much I loved being fit and how much I liked challenging myself physically, and then I realised, there’s no place quite like the athletics track.”

While disappointed at missing out on the gold again, Holt will use it as motivation to go one better at Paris in three years time.

“There’s nothing quite like winning silver that makes you want to come back and win gold,” she said.