June 29, 1985 |
Little Rock, Arkansas, United States
|Height||4 ft 4.75 in (1.34 m)|
|Weight||105 lb (48 kg)|
Popovich was born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that restricted the growth of her limbs. Her parents, a teacher and a physician, moved their family to Butte, Montana when Popovich was five. During childhood, she wore braces to straighten her back and legs, and underwent about a dozen surgeries. But according to her mother, "we didn't have to make a lot of accommodations for her; we didn't want to treat her too much differently from her siblings." Popovich was interested in sports from an early age. She rode horses and played soccer and basketball. When Popovich was 12, she joined a swim club and by the age of 15, she was competing at the 2000 Paralympic Games.
Erin Popovich has participated in three Paralympics. She won three gold medals and three silver medals while setting four world records at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney. At the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Popovich won seven gold medals in seven races (including two relays), and set three world records and four Paralympic Games records. In 2005, Popovich won the first ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability and was named the Women's Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year. At the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, she won an additional four gold and two silver medals, breaking two world records (200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke) and two Paralympic records (100m and 400m freestyle). In 2009, she won the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability for the second time. Following the International Paralympic Committee World Swimming Championships in 2010, Popovich announced her retirement from competitive swimming.
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