Sophie Pascoe

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Sophie Pascoe
Personal information
Full name Sophie Frances Pascoe
Nationality New Zealander
Born (1993-01-08) 8 January 1993 (age 22)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Sport Swimming

Sophie Frances Pascoe MNZM (born 8 January 1993)[1] is a New Zealand Paralympic swimmer. She has won ten medals at the Summer Paralympics: four medals (three gold and one silver) in 2008 and six medals (three gold and three silver) in 2012.

Early life[edit]

Born in Christchurch on 8 January 1993 to Gary and Jo Pascoe, Sophie grew up on a lifestyle block near Halswell on the south-western outskirts of the city.[2] She has one older sister, Rebecca. On 23 September 1995,[3] Pascoe was accidentally run over by her father on the family 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.[2][4][5] She attended Halswell Primary School,[2] and Lincoln High School in the nearby Christchurch satellite town of Lincoln.[4]

Pascoe began swimming at age 7.[2] She is coached by Roly Critchon,[6] and trains at the QEII swim club, which has been based at Jellie Park in Burnside since the facilities at Queen Elizabeth II Park were damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[7]

International swimming career[edit]

At the 2008 Summer Paralympics, Pascoe won a gold and a silver medal for the 100 m breaststroke and 100 m butterfly respectively and later a gold for the women's 200 m individual medley.[8] Pascoe then shared a gold medal for the 100 m backstroke when she drew with South African Shireen Sapiro.[9] At 15 years of age, Pascoe was New Zealand's youngest athlete at the Paralympics,[10] and the youngest ever New Zealander to win a medal.[11]

Following the 2008 Paralympics, Pascoe was voted New Zealand's favourite Paralympian in a nationwide voting competition run by Mitsubishi Motors. For this she won a Mitsubishi VRX Outlander.[12] Pascoe was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 New Year's Honours, for her services to swimming.[13] In February 2012, Pascoe became the inaugural winner of the Disabled Sportsperson of the Year award at the 2011 Halberg awards.[14]

At the 2012 Summer Paralympics, Pascoe competed in six events – the four in which she won medals at the 2008 Paralympics, plus the 50m freestyle (S10) and 100m freestyle (SM10) events.[5] She successfully defended her 200 m individual medley (SM10) gold medal, breaking her own world record by four seconds with a time of 2:25.65.[15] She also won gold medals in the 100 m butterfly (S10), where she bettered her silver at Beijing and in the process setting a new world record with a time of 1:04.43,[16] and in the 100 m freestyle (S10), setting a new Paralympic record with a time of 1:00.89.[17] Pascoe won silver medals in the 50 m freestyle (S10),[18] 100 m backstroke (S10),[19] and 100 m breaststroke (SB9).[20]

In March 2013 Pascoe broke her own world record for the 50m butterfly at the New Zealand Swimming Championships in Auckland, setting a time of 29.21 seconds.[21][22]

Major achievements[edit]

  • 2013: Winner of the Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
  • 2012: Three gold medals (100 m freestyle-S10, 100 m butterfly-S10, 200 m individual medley-SM10); three silver medals (50 m freestyle-S10, 100 m backstroke-S10, 100 m breaststroke-SB9) – International Paralympic Committee (IPC) - Paralympic Games, London, United Kingdom; Winner of the Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year. Named as an ambassador for Beef and Lamb New Zealand.[23]
  • 2011: Winner of the Halberg Award for Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
  • 2010: Gold medal (100 m butterfly-S10); three silver medals (50 m freestyle-S10, 100 m backstroke-S10, 200 m individual medley-SM10); bronze medal (100 m breaststroke-SB9) - IPC World Championships, Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • 2009: Four gold medals (100 m backstroke-S10, 100 m butterfly-S10, 100 m individual medley-SM10, 200 m individual medley-SM10); three bronze medals (100 m freestyle-S10, 400 m freestyle-S10, 100 m breaststroke-SB9) – IPC World Championships – 25 m, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • 2008: Three gold medals (100 m backstroke-S10, 100 m breaststroke-SB9, 200 m individual medley-SM10); Silver (100 m butterfly-S10) - International Paralympic Committee (IPC) – Paralympic Games, Beijing, China
  • 2006: Bronze (200 m individual medley-SM10) – IPC World Championships, Durban, South Africa


  1. ^ "Paralympic Athletes – Swimming". Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d Forbes, Michael (8 September 2012). "No limits". The Dominion Post. p. A8. 
  3. ^ "Sophie Pascoe's stroke of fate". The Dominion Post. 19 October 2013. pp. Your Weekend 8–10. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Booker, Jarrod (17 September 2008). "Paralympics: My disability inspired me – Sophie". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Woodcock, Fred (29 August 2012). "Sophie Pascoe a moving target at Paralympics". Fairfax Media (via Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Sophie Pascoe has tight bond with coach". Fairfax Media (via 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Woodcock, Fred (29 August 2012). "Darling of Beijing faces big task". The Press Christchurch (via Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Second gold for Pascoe in the pool". 2008-09-12. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  9. ^ "Gold and silver for NZ swimmers". NZPA. 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  10. ^ "Pascoe wins gold for grandad". TVNZ. 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  11. ^ "Kiwi teen takes silver". TVNZ. 2008-09-09. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  12. ^ "Golden girl voted NZ’s favourite Paralympian". Mitsubishi Motors (via 2008-09-19. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  13. ^ "New Year Honours List 2009". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  14. ^ Plumb, Simon (9 February 2012). "All Blacks stars of show at Halberg Awards". Fairfax Media (via Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Paralympics: NZ's golden start". The New Zealand Herald. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "Pascoe wins second gold in London pool". Fairfax Media (via 2 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  17. ^ "Paralympics: Pascoe claims third gold despite illness". New Zealand Herald. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 7 September 2012. 
  18. ^ "Medal rush continues for Pascoe, Fisher". Television New Zealand. 1 September 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012. 
  19. ^ "Pascoe wins silver, loses Paralympic title". Television New Zealand. 5 September 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  20. ^ "Sixth medal for Sophie Pascoe". 3 News. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  21. ^ "Kiwis Pascoe, Fisher set world records". 3 News NZ. March 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Paralympic stars in world-beating form". Yahoo!Xtra. March 19, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Sophie Pascoe named Beef and Lamb ambassador". 3 News NZ. September 25, 2012. 
Preceded by
Award created
Halberg Awards – Disabled Sportsperson of the Year
2011, 2012, 2013
Succeeded by
Mary Fisher