Sophie Pascoe | Swimmer
Born 1993 in Christchurch, New Zealand
Once there was a two-year-old called Sophie, who was as lively and full of beans as two-year-olds are meant to be. She lived near Christchurch city. One day, when her dad was using the ride-on lawn mower, Sophie ran after it and he didn’t see her. There was a terrible accident to the little girl’s legs.
Her dad rushed Sophie to hospital. The surgeons saved her right leg though it had bad scars. Her left leg had to be amputated below the knee.
The family was devastated.
But when Sophie began to recover, her mum and dad and her loving big sister decided it would be wrong to let her doubt herself. They’d treat her just like they had before.
If Sophie said, ‘I can’t do that,’ they’d say, ‘Why not try it and see?’
Nine times out of ten, Sophie could do whatever it was.
Even before she had an artificial leg fitted, Sophie brimmed over with beans again — scrambling around, climbing jungle gyms, getting into mischief, powering on.
She started school. With her artificial leg, she ran in a five-year-old’s race — and came first against all the kids who had two whole legs.
Then Sophie wanted to try swimming. At first all the other kids were better than her. Her mum hunted out a good coach to help.
The very first race Sophie entered after that, she won. Her swimming career started powering on.
By the time Sophie was nine, her grandad asked her to make him a promise: When you’re older, compete in the Paralympics and win a gold medal.
For six more years, Sophie trained. Often she was exhausted. Sometimes her injuries still hurt. She kept powering on.
At last she was selected to swim for New Zealand at the Paralympic Games. She won a gold medal. Oh, wait — make that three gold medals and a silver.
She won more medals in later Paralympics. She’s also won gold and silver medals in World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.
Sophie has changed the way people think about para sport. And so far she has won nine gold medals for her grandad, and that’s only counting from the Paralympics.
Artwork by Phoebe Morris.