HUMANA Hero: Wanda Newsom, 77, Taylor, Texas
Birthdays seem to bring extra luck for Wanda Newsom. She won her first archery gold medal at the 2005 National Senior Games on her 65th birthday, and by happy coincidence, she earned another gold as the Texan celebrated her 77th birthday at the 2017 National Senior Games presented by Humana in Birmingham.
“It was also my 7th National games, and I won my 7th Senior Games medal as I turned 77. I should have bought a lotto ticket,” she quips.
Surrounded by her longtime competitors, Wanda warmly talks about the people she has met and the friendships forged during her participation in The Games. “Archery is my thing,” Wanda says, beaming. “It’s what I love to do. I would love to live forever for these moments.”
Wanda has overcome multiple obstacles in her life. In 2001, she unexpectedly lost her husband to a heart attack. Soon after, Wanda’s son encouraged her to get out her compound bow and start shooting again. Wanda embraced her husband’s love for fishing and hunting, and continued the tradition with her sons. What began as a bonding experience turned into a passion for her new sport.
“I can test myself,” Wanda says. “I enjoy seeing whether I can hit the bullseye.”
Six weeks before the 2013 Games, Wanda was in an auto accident that left her with a cracked sternum.
Miraculously, she went on to compete but quickly realized it was time to adjust her style. The road to recovery hasn’t been easy, but she is determined to continue the sport that she loves.
“I wasn’t about to quit,” she recalls in a determined tone.
Wanda now shoots with the Genius GenX bow, which makes it easier for her to pull. She proudly displays her bow, brightly designed in six different colors. She even has tennis shoes to match. She also threw the discus in Birmingham. She is a member of the Texas Throwers, and is an ambassador for Huntsman World Senior Games, but archery has captured her heart.
“I’ll keep doing it until the day I die,” she says confidently. “I encourage everyone to do it.”
By Caroline Watt and Del Moon