Dame Sophie Pascoe
Sophie Pascoe is the most successful Paralympic athlete New Zealand has ever produced. At the age of 15 she became the youngest medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics - winning an amazing three gold medals and a silver.
Born in Christchurch in 1993, Sophie was accidentally run over by a ride-on lawnmower, resulting in both her legs being caught under the cutter deck housing in the path of the rotating mower blades. As a result of the accident, her left leg was to be amputated below the knee, while the rear of her right leg was left with severe scarring. She began swimming at age 7.
New Zealand’s most decorated para-athlete, Dame Sophie Pascoe burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old with a series of stunning performances at the Beijing Paralympic Games.
Since then, the powerful swimmer has firmly cemented her place as a national treasure.
It’s impossible to do justice to all of Pascoe’s achievements in the pool, but her quick highlight reel includes 20 Paralympic medals (including eleven gold) across four Games, 17 IPC world titles, and multiple world records.
In 2018 Pascoe made further history when she was named flag-bearer and team captain at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, becoming the first para-athlete to lead the New Zealand team out at a major Games.
A below-the-knee amputee following a lawnmower accident when she was a toddler, Pascoe is known for her raw honesty and offers refreshing insight into the ups and downs of life of an athlete. Her autobiography "Stroke of Fate" which speaks of great determination, courage and commitment was published in 2013.
A compelling speaker, Pascoe leaves a lasting impression on everyone she meets.
Her achievements include:
- 2022: One gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games (100 m freestyle)
- 2019: Four gold medals at the World Para Swimming Championships in London.
- 2018: Two gold medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (4x50m individual medley, 100m Breaststroke)
- 2017: Sport New Zealand Leadership Award; Sport Canterbury Supreme Award, Winner of the Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
- 2016: Three gold medals, two silver – Paralympic Games, Rio de Janiero
- 2015: Three gold medals – IPC World Championships, winner of the Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
- 2014: Two gold medals - Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, UK
- 2013: Five gold medals - IPC World Champs; Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
- 2012: Three gold medals; three silver – Paralympic Games, London; Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
- 2011: Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
- 2010: Gold medal, three silver medals, bronze medal - IPC World Championships, Eindhoven
- 2009: Four gold medals, three bronze medals – IPC World Championships – Rio de Janeiro
- 2008: Three gold medals, one silver– Paralympic Games, Beijing
In the 2022 New Year Honours, Sophie was named Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to swimming.