In August, 2004, Chantelle Newbery was the toast of Australian sport when she became the first Australian diver to win an Olympic gold medal.
Newbery’s win in the 10m platform event made her a household name across Australia. Her story as the girl who grew up in Castlemaine, overcame the odds and went on to conquer the world was a classic rags to riches tale.
Newbery had the world at her feet.
The 12 years since her triumph in Athens have been anything but glamorous for the Bendigo Diving Club’s most famous graduate.
Drugs, depression, the death of her mother from cancer, her marriage break-up and two stints in jail in Brisbane hit Newbery hard.
Newbery’s fall from grace and her fight to get her life back on track will be highlighted on Prime7 on Monday night in Ray Martin’s one-hour special Ice: The scourge of regional Australia.
“Chantelle is good example of someone who has gone from the most amazing achievement in her life to a real dark patch in her life,’’ producer Shaun Devitt said.
“Chantelle says in the show that the only reason she tried it (ice) was because she was in a dark depression after her mother died.
“She said that ice took the tears away and she didn’t feel sad anymore.
“That’s the problem with ice, you only need one hit and you’re hooked so quickly.”
Devitt and Martin have travelled throughout regional Australia talking to ice users and the families and communities that are left to pick up the pieces of the damage caused by the illicit drug.
“Ray and I have seen some harsh things in our careers, but we were both stunned by the personal grief ice is causing in regional Australia,’’ Devitt said.
“We heard stories of farmers who have been forced to sell properties that had been in their family for generations because their children were in debt because of ice use.
“Farmers do it tough as it is, but when something like this is added to it they just don’t know how to handle it.
“There’s a stigma of shame and embarrassment related to drug use and families in regional areas try to handle it themselves, but it’s such a runaway train it’s hard to stop.”
Devitt said the silver-lining to Newbery’s ice story was her potential to help others not fall into the same trap.
“My heart breaks for Chantelle because she is doing everything she can to get her life back,’’ Devitt said.
“She refuses to play the victim card. She openly admits she made wrong decisions and she’s prepared to take responsibility for that. She wants to move forward now.”
Ice: The scourge of regional Australia screens on Monday at 7.30pm exclusively on Prime7.