Tokyo Paralympics: Kiwi icon Sophie Pascoe admits 'very different goals', calms expectations of medal haul

NZ Paralympic great Sophie Pascoe is tempering expectations in the pool, as she tries to add to her record medal haul at Tokyo.

Since her debut at Beijing 2008, swimmer Pascoe stands as New Zealand's most decorated para-athlete, winning nine gold medals and six silvers across three Games.

Those achievements were recognised, when she and track & field athlete William Stedman were named Hāpai Kara (leaders) of the NZ Paralympic contingent in Tokyo.

At 28, Pascoe has the chance for more glory in the pool in Tokyo, but despite her status as one of the world's standout names in para-swimming, she concedes her own expectations have changed heading to Tokyo.

Earlier this year, Pascoe revealed to Newshub that the COVID-19 pandemic had hit her hard, delaying the Games by a year. 

That delay and subsequent impact on her ability to train has seen Pascoe take the pressure off herself to win every race and every gold medal on offer.

"These goals are very different, compared to previous goals at the last three Paralympic Games," Pascoe tells Newshub.

"I say that because I've always only wanted the best out of myself. My own pressure is the toughest pressure of all. 

"I always wanted more than just a podium finish. I wanted the world record - and obviously with the world record - a podium finish comes with that.

"I'll be very ecstatic with getting onto the podium and that's where I'm at. I may even surprise myself, but I think it's a great way to be going into this Games.

"It's an amazing achievement for me to be here, so to tick those goals off day by day over the race schedule is what I'm looking forward to the most."

But while Pascoe has been open with her struggles, that won't see any diminished effort from the Kiwi great to reach her new goals.

"It's definitely ingrained in me to be a competitor, so I'll be absolutely going out there and giving it my best to get on that podium for New Zealand."