Mary Fisher is far more than a world-class swimmer. A supporter of developing Para swimmers, community advocate and mentor at the Blind Foundation the 23-year-old Wellingtonian has proved as successful on dry land as she has in the water.
Taking up competitive swimming aged nine, Mary enjoyed the independence the sport gave her and gradually progressed making her international debut in Australia in 2007.
At the 2009 World Short Course Championships she enjoyed her first taste of global precious metal before going on to strike gold in a world record time in the Women's 200m Individual Medley S11 at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
She describes her maiden Paralympic experience, in which she won four medals, as “incredible” and says of her gold medal memories: “To be in the best in the world on that day and to be able to share it with so many people was awesome.”
Since then Mary, who trains up to 14 sessions per week, has gone from strength to strength. At the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal she snared five gold medals but for her the highlight was featuring as part of a stellar New Zealand team, which finished fourth in the medal table.
At the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Mary secured a further five medals including three gold, and at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games she hopes to “to train and race to the best of my ability” rather than focus on the huge expectations of others.
The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games were a huge success for Mary. Mary broke one of the three world records smashed by a member of the New Zealand Paralympic Team during Rio 2016. With a gold medal and world record, Mary 's exceptional performance shone amongst a stand out team of 31 Paralympians. The Team secured a stunning 21 medals across 12 individual medallists – 9 gold, 5 silver and 7 bronze – beating its pre-Games target of 18 medals by 3 medals. The team finished 1st in the world per capita and 13th in the world overall (previous best: 16th).
Yet for Mary, a Bachelor of Arts student at Massey University, there is far more to her life than swimming. A regular performer with the Wellington Community Choir and enthusiastic supporter of many projects within the community, in 2015 she won the Supreme Award at the Attitude Awards for her sporting and social contribution.
“It was lovely to receive the award and I hope that this will enable other New Zealand youth, who have a disability, to believe that they can have a crack at whatever they want to achieve,” she adds.
“We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on.” - Albus Dumbledore