Barbara Howie made a major impact in her first Paralympic Games in West Germany in 1972 where she set a world record. She is Scotland’s most successful wheelchair track athletics Paralympian and in Germany she won three gold medals in her first Games. Her medals included a very competitive slalom gold, demonstrating that at world level her chair handling skills were exceptional.
In the Games of 1976 in Toronto she followed up her impressive debut with another sprints gold medal and world record to add to her collection. Barbara’s final Paralympic Games were in the Netherlands in 1980 where she won her fifth Paralympic medal, which on this occasion was silver. Barabara had an illustrious Paralympic career as a top class international sprinter, following on from the success of fellow Scottish Paraplegic Association member Val Robertson. Barbara was highly competitive, very skilled and a great servant to British and Scottish athletics. Sadly Barbara just missed out on all the technological changes that made such an impact on the sport in the years after she retired.
Barabara continued her involvement in athletics in Scotland as a Scottish Athletics official and was regularly present at major meets in Meadowbank in particular. Her major competition as an official was the Commonwealth Games in 1986 in Edinburgh. Barbara was always willing to pass on her skills and knowledge to up and coming athletes. Part of her legacy will undoubtedly be of a great athlete turned official who was prepared to share her skills and experience with others in the sport she loved so dearly.
During the early days of the development of disability sport in Scotland, members of the Scottish Paraplegic Association played a very important role. In addition to her athletics ventures Barbara contributed to the development of wheelchair athletics in and around the Edinburgh area and encouraged and supported many spinal injured participants to take up the sport. Edinburgh was the first base of disability sport in Scotland. The office of the Scottish Paraplegic Association was the base for the late Bob Mitchell and current SDS Vice President Jean Stone. Disability sport in Scotland owes so much to those great athletes and volunteers of those early years.