The standard-bearer for Para sport in New Zealand, Sophie Pascoe is a national treasure. A six-time Paralympic gold medallist and multiple World Champion, the Cantabrian swimmer will had the weight of a nation’s expectations upon her when she hit the pool in Rio for what was her third Paralympic appearance. Sophie won five medals and broke a world record while taking her total tally to 15 Paralympic medals. This success has now made Sophie the most decorated New Zealand Paralympian ever!
A below the knee amputee following a lawnmower accident aged two, Sophie first revealed her future ability competing the at the CCS Independence Games when Paralympians Roly Crichton and Graham Condon impressed by Sophie's potential asked her to join the QEII Swim Club.
From there the Kiwi star – who has been coached for the past 14 years by Crichton – made rapid progress bagging a bronze medal on her international debut aged just 13 at the IPC Swimming World Championships in South Africa.
It was this performance which “fast-forwarded” her career and just two years later she surprised many to truly emerge on the international stage by securing three gold and one silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
Suddenly thrust into the public spotlight, the Halberg award-winning Sophie has continued to flourish. At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the Christchurch swim sensation bagged three gold and three silver medals before the following year achieving her career highlight with five gold medals at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal.
Pascoe shares her training time between Auckland and Christchurch, squeezing in 14 sessions per week. Her motivation to succeed remains strong and the multi-talented swimmer continued to impress at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow winning six further medals including three gold.
“The Paralympic Games is our pinnacle event. To listen to that national anthem after winning a race is a proud moment for your and your country,” she adds.
Sophie is now looking forward to the 2017 World Para Swimming Championships, Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games and what she hopes will be her fourth Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020.