125th anniversary of Suffrage in New Zealand

Sophie Pascoe wins her first medal

8 September 2008

Sophie Pascoe on the starting blocks (Getty Images, via Te Ara)

On 8 September 2008, Sophie Pascoe won her first Paralympic medal, a silver in the women’s 100m butterfly S10 event at the Beijing Paralympics. She had placed second in her heat that morning, behind France’s Elodie Lorandi, qualifying for the final with the fourth fastest time. In the final that evening, Pascoe shaved a second and a half off her heat time to come second to American Anna Eames.

The 15-year-old was just getting started – she went on to win golds in the 100m backstroke S10, 100m breaststroke SB9 and 200m individual medley SM10.

Pascoe is New Zealand’s most successful Paralympian. By 2018 she had won 15 medals (nine gold and six silver) and held the world record for nine S10 women’s events. The S10 category is for people with missing feet or the leg below the knee, minimal weakness in their legs, or hip problems. Pascoe had her left leg amputated below the knee after an accident when she was two years old.

Since 2008, Pascoe has gained recognition as one of New Zealand’s most successful athletes. In 2018 she was the New Zealand flagbearer at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. She is a four-time winner of the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation Disabled Sportsperson of the Year and was a finalist for Sportswoman of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

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