Paula Newby-Fraser


Natal swimmer and World Ironman Champion

Paula was born on June 2, 1962 in Rhodesia and raised in Durban, South Africa, where she swam for Natal schools, under coach Alisdair Hatfield. Paula cut her teeth in the world of triathlon in the city of Durban, being inspired in the 80’s by all the endurance sports on offer in the sport mad province of Natal (as it was named then) namely Comrades Marathon, Dusi Canoe Marathon and Midmar Mile.  These events have motivated many over the years to leave the couch and get active, but no one achieved what Paula even dreamt of doing as she changed the world of multi-sport forever. It was her victory in the first ultra distance triathlon in the country in Durban in 1983, which Paula won, with a prize of competing in Hawaii. Now know as the “Queen of Kona” after her record-breaking performances and 8 victories in that single race which changed her life forever.

As a young girl, born in Zimbabwe but raised in Durban, Paula trained with the men, thinking nothing of swimming from Vetchies Pierre to Country Club beach, having coffee, cycling out to Stanger and back then going for a jog on the promenade to cool down.She won the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii 8 times in 1986, 1988–1989, 1991–1994, and 1996.

Over 12 years Newby-Fraser won 21 of 26 Ironman races she has entered around the globe, and dozens of shorter races too.

February 1976

Among numerous other awards, the United States Sports Academy named her as one of the top 5 professional women athletes of the last 25 years (1972–1997). Paula Newby-Fraser held the Ironman Women's world record of 8:50:28, until 2008-07-13, when Yvonne van Vlerken of the Netherlands posted a time of 8:45:48. Paula Newby-Fraser is regarded as an icon for the Ironman distance in triathlon.

The fastest time posted by a woman in Kona was 8:55:28 set by 8-time Ironman World Champion, Paula Newby-Fraser in 1992. Newby-Fraser dominated the lava fields of the Big Island for most of the 80's and 90's. Between 1985 and 1996, Paula finished no lower than fourth place. Her final Ironman World Championship was also a fourth place finish in 2001. There's a reason why she's known as the "Queen of Kona."

Paula Newby-Fraser is the only triathlete to transcend the sport. Certainly, she is the greatest triathlete of all time: Her 24 Ironman Championships are more than twice that won by triathlon legends Mark Allen & Erin Baker (8 each) and Dave Scott (7). Her 1988 Ironman finish (11th overall) has been called the "greatest performance in endurance sports his-tory". The Los Angeles Times, e-xtra and ABC's Wide World of Sports have acclaimed Paula "The Greatest All-Around Female Athlete in the World".

The Women's Sports Foundation named Paula it's 1990 " Professional Sportswoman of the Year", the most prestigious international award given to female athletes each year. The United States Sports Academy, CNN & USA Today! named Paula as one of top 5 professional women athletes of the last 25 years (1972-97).

•   8-Time Ironman Triathlon World Champion 1996, 1994, 1993,1992, 1991, 1989, 1988, 1986

•   24 Ironman Triathlon Career Wins(1986-2004)

•   Ironman World Record Holder (8:50:24)

•   "Professional Sportswoman of the Year " Women's Sports Foundation(1990)

•   Named "Greatest Triathlete in History" Triathlete Magazine (1999)

•   Named "Greatest All-Around Female Athlete in the World"ABC's Wide World of Sports & Los Angeles Times

•   Named "Female Pro Athlete of the Decade" Los Angeles Times for 1980's

The Top 5 Professional Female Athletes of the past 25 years (1972-97) as named by the United States Sports Academy from data collected from a CNN & USA Today! poll

1.            Martina Navratilova

2.            Steffi Graf

3.            Chris Evert

4.            Billie Jean King

5.            Paula Newby-Fraser

Awards & Accolades

•   Voted "Athlete of the Decade" by Readers of with 68% of the Vote

•   Inducted into The San Diego Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame

•   Listed #60 Sports Illustrated for Women’s Greatest Female Athletes of the century

Named "GREATEST OF ALL -TIME" by Triathlete Magazine

Paula Newby-Fraser Now Concentrating on Building Her Triathlon Resume

September 24, 1988

SAN DIEGO — Paula Newby-Fraser of Encinitas has done so well on the triathlon circuit this year that she recently quit her part-time job.

Newby-Fraser, 26, is no longer a travel agent but a full-time triathlete whose work this year in swimming, biking and running has pushed her near the top of the growing pool of talented women in her sport.

She is second in the U.S. Triathlon Series Grand Prix points, trailing Kirsten Hanssen of Denver by 225, entering Sunday's USTS stop at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. The race begins at 6:45 a.m.

Newby-Fraser said she will probably make almost $60,000 in winnings and sponsorship money this year. This week, she signed with The Weekend Exercise Company as her title sponsor. Goodby part-time job.

"I just decided in the last few weeks that I didn't want to work anymore," she said.

Newby-Fraser, who is from Zimbabwe and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and psychology from the University of Natal in the South African city of Durban, left her homeland in March 1986 to concentrate on triathlons.

Her first triathlon was in Durban in 1985. She trained just two months for it but won.

"I had a very good strong swim background, and I had just started doing a little running," she said. "I was a little shocked that I won it. The sport was just growing there, and there was about 5 or 6 women in the field. It sounds really good, but it probably wasn't such a great accomplishment."

It was enough incentive, however, for her to continue. Then she heard about a place where a number of triathletes live and train.

"I knew that San Diego was the place to be for triathlons, so I automatically moved here," she said. "I had met a couple of people from Leucadia and moved out initially to stay with them."

She received her green card earlier this year. It will be another 6 years before she can gain citizenship.

"It's a very long and very arduous and very expensive process," she said. "But I'm going through it nonetheless."

Newby-Fraser lives with triathlete Paul Huddle and biathlete Joel Thompson. It's more than coincidence that she and Huddle are each having the best years of their careers. They approached this year with a little different strategy than in the past.

"I decided at the beginning of this year that I had to train a lot harder and more consistently throughout the year," Newby-Fraser said. "And I have chosen to go to all the bigger races this year and just put myself out there and race against the toughest competition all year. I just have made me better racing against girls that are faster than me all the time."

She said Huddle, 25, fourth on the men's Grand Prix points list, has also improved from putting himself on the line against the best every race.

"I think that we both gained from the experience of not staying local, going to low-key races in Califor

Newby-Fraser next began running ultramarathon, which are running races of 50 km or more. She entered the Ridgecrest High Desert 50K in April 1997. She set a blistering pace, and won with a new course record

of 4 hours and 6 minutes.

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