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    Sophie Pascoe

    Ones to watch
    New Zealand New Zealand Para swimming 8 January 1993

    Christchurch, New Zealand

    Close up of swimmer doing breast stroke


    Human Interest
    Data Value
    Impairment Information
    Type of Impairment Limb deficiency
    Origin of Impairment Acquired
    Classification S9, SB8, SM9
    Further Personal Information
    Residence Christchurch, NZL
    Occupation Athlete
    Languages English
    Higher education Beauty Therapy - Kristen Stewart School of Make Up Artistry: Christchurch, ENG
    Sport Specific Information
    When and where did you begin this sport? She began swimming at age seven in New Zealand.
    Why this sport? She was able to swim faster than her able-bodied friends and realised she had a talent for the sport. "I was told at age eight I had a talent for swimming and that I could represent New Zealand."
    Club / Team QEII Swim Club: Christchurch, NZL
    Name of coach Roly Crichton [personal], NZL
    International Debut
    Year 2006
    Competing for New Zealand
    Tournament World Championships
    Location Durban, FRA
    General Interest
    Nicknames Soph (Twitter profile, 08 Sep 2017)
    Memorable sporting achievement Winning gold medals at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. (Athlete, 12 Sep 2019)
    Most influential person in career Her parents. (Athlete, 12 Sep 2019)
    Hero / Idol New Zealand Para swimmer Cameron Leslie. (Athlete, 12 Sep 2019)
    Injuries In August 2018 she underwent surgery to remove what remained of the fibula bone in her left leg, as well as the main nerve that ran into her stump. Doctors made the decision to operate after she had experienced pain earlier in the year when trying on a new prosthetic leg. (stuff.co.nz, 31 Dec 2018)

    She suffered from an infection while competing at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. The illness forced her to miss the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Pasadena, CA, United States of America. She underwent an operation in Canada, which took her two months to recover from. (stuff.co.nz, 18 Apr 2015)
    Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs She listens to music from US singer Missy Elliot before every race. (paralympic.org, 11 May 2019)
    Sporting philosophy / motto "Everyone can be 100% physically ready. It's who has that 100% mental X-factor that will be world champion." (odt.co.nz, 14 Oct 2016)
    Awards and honours In 2019 she was named Para-Swimmer of the Year by Swimming New Zealand, the fourth consecutive time she had won the honour and the eighth time in total. (swimswam.com, 05 Apr 2020)

    She was flag bearer for New Zealand at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. (radionz.co.nz, 03 Apr 2018)

    She was named the 2017 Swimmer of the Year by Swimming NZ. (stuff.co.nz, 09 Apr 2017)

    In 2017 she was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability. (stuff.co.nz, 12 Jan 2017)

    In 2017 she was presented with the Sport New Zealand Leadership Award at the 54th Halberg Awards. (halbergawards.co.nz, 09 Feb 2017)

    She was named New Zealand's Sportsperson with an Impairment of the Year for 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. (teara.govt.nz, 2017; paralympics.org.nz, 22 Feb 2016)

    In October 2009 she received four honours at the Canterbury Sportsperson Awards in New Zealand, which included being named the Sportsperson of the Year. She became the first athlete with an impairment to receive the award. (stuff.co.nz, 02 Oct 2009)

    In March 2009 she was given the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of her services to swimming. (gg.govt.nz, 19 Mar 2009)
    Milestones She won three gold medals and two silver medals at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. This took her Paralympic medal total to 15, making her the most successful athlete from New Zealand to have competed at the Paralympic Games. In 2008 she became the youngest New Zealander to have won a Paralympic medal when she took silver in the S10 100m butterfly at the 2008 Games in Beijing. She was also the youngest member of the New Zealand team at the Games. (stuff.co.nz, 09 Apr 2017; nzherald.co.nz, 17 Sep 2008; tvnz.co.nz, 09 Sep 2008)
    Impairment Her left leg was amputated below the knee at age two after her father accidentally reversed over her with a lawnmower. (stuff.co.nz, 19 Oct 2013)
    Other information LAST 200IM
    She collapsed and required oxygen at the poolside after winning the SM9 200m individual medley at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo stating that it would be the last time she will race the event. "That's a first for me, and now it's a last because it's not going to happen again. It just came down to not breathing and giving it absolutely everything. I could feel the pain while swimming that last 50m from head to toe and I couldn't even feel my strokes in that last 10m." (swimswam.com, 02 Sep 2021)

    In 2018 she spent more than three months in Nottingham, England, as part of her preparations for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. While she was there she trained with British Para swimmer Ollie Hynd, who has neuro muscular myopathy. "Working one-on-one with Ollie was definitely beneficial. It was really challenging but made me a tougher person. There were times when it wasn't going great, and times when it went so great. But I'm so glad I did it, because it's part of the new chapter in my life. Another stepping stone towards Tokyo." (stuff.co.nz, 31 Dec 2018)

    Her biography 'Stroke of Fate' was published in 2013. The book reveals details about how the accident in which she lost the lower part of her left leg has affected her family. The limb was amputated at age two after her father Garry accidentally reversed over her with a lawnmower, something he says has haunted him ever since. "I wanted people to know about me so when they watch me race, they can feel like they know me. I really wanted to make it as honest and open as possible because I see myself as an open book anyway." (yahoo.com, 15 Nov 2013)

    She has studied for qualifications in business and management through an online course. (stuff.co.nz, 31 Dec 2018)

    The biographies are regularly updated and new biographies of other Paralympic sports will be added frequently. If you find any mistake in a biography, please contact Rafael Maranhao, IPC Public Relations Senior Manager, at [email protected]

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