Tokyo Paralympics: Kiwi swimmers, sprinter Danielle Aitchison hope to bolster NZ medal count

Kiwi swim star Sophie Pascoe has added a second gold medal to her Tokyo Paralympics haul, cruising to victory over SM9 200m individual medley.

Twenty-four hours earlier, Pascoe, 28, created NZ Paralympic history with the 10th gold - and 18th medal overall - of a career that began at Beijing 2008.

Thursday morning, she was leading qualifier in an event she had won with an S10 classification at each of the last three Games and went even faster in the final, clocking 2m 32.73s.

Pascoe powered through the opening butterfly leg, maintained her lead after backstroke and extended it to more than three-and-a-half seconds over the penultimate breaststroke phase.

But over the final freestyle lap - the discipline where she won gold on Tuesday - the pressure and fatigue of three consecutive days' racing seemed to catch up with the Kiwi, as she barely held off the charge of Hungarian Zsofia Konkoly (2m 33.00s).

The result added to Pascoe's full set of gold, silver and bronze medals already at Tokyo, and represented New Zealand's fourth victory and ninth medal at these Games. Swimmer Tupou Neiufi and shot putter Lisa Adams are our other gold medallists so far.

Pascoe returns to the pool for her last event - S9 100m butterfly - on Thursday.

Danielle Aitchison and Elena Ivanova celebrate their T36 100m medals
Danielle Aitchison and Elena Ivanova celebrate their T36 100m medals. Photo credit: Getty

Within minutes, sprinter Danielle Aitchison added to that medal tally, finishing third over T36 100m in 14.62s. After bowing to Chinese Shi Yiting over 200m two days earlier, Aitchison again had no answer to her rival, who rocketed away to a world record 13.61s, with Russian Elena Ivanova edging the Kiwi for second.

Earlier, Nikita Howarth narrowly missed the podium over S9 100m breastroke, finishing fourth in 1m 36.65s.

Making her debut at these Games, the Rio de Janeiro 2016 200m medley champion qualified third-fastest from the morning's heats, but was always chasing the eventual medallists in the final, led home by Russian Mariia Pavlova in 1m 31.44s. 

Swimming with a double-arm deficiency - and battling a broken arm that threatened her selection for Tokyo - Howarth will contest S7 50m butterfly - where she claimed a 2015 world title and bronze at Rio 2016 - on Friday. 

Neiufi returned to the pool for the S8 50m freestyle final, placing fifth in 31.48s.

New Zealand's medal tally now stands at four gold, three silver and three bronze, with three days of competition remaining.

Wednesday, September 1


Women’s 100m breaststroke heats - Nikita Howarth (SB7), 2nd 1m 36.05s (progresses to final)

Men’s 200m individual medley heats - Jesse Reynolds (SM9), 4th 2m 24.89s (progresses to final)

Women’s 200m individual medley heats - Sophie Pascoe (SM9), 1st 2m 34.55s (progresses to final)

Women’s 50m freestyle heats - Tupou Neiufi (S8), 2nd 32.47s (progresses to final)

Women’s 100m breaststroke final - Nikita Howarth (SB7), 4th 1m 36.65s

Men’s 200m individual medley final - Jesse Reynolds (SM9), 7th 2m 25.62s

Women’s 200m individual medley final - Sophie Pascoe (SM9), 1st 2m 32.73s (gold medal)

Women’s 50m freestyle final - Tupou Neiufi (S8), 5th 31.48s


Men’s road race - Rory Mead (H2), 5th 2h 23m 08s


Women’s 100m heats - Danielle Aitchison (T36), 1st 14.35s (Oceania record, progresses to final)

Women’s 100m final - Danielle Aitchison (T36), 3rd 14.62s (bronze medal)


Mixed 10m air rifle prone qualifying - Michael Johnson (SH2), 9th 635.2 points (does not progress)

Paralympic classifications

Each athlete is given a classification, depending on the severity of their impairment. Here is a brief summary of classifications for the NZ Paralympic team...


T36 = Track, cerebral palsy


H2 = Handcycle, spinal injury


SH2 = Rifle, arm impairment from spinal injury


S7/SB7/SM7 = Swimming, double arm deficiency

S8/SB8/SM8 = Swimming, left-side paralysis

S9/SB9/SM10 = Swimming, leg deficiency below knee

In swimming, some impairments affect some strokes more than others, hence multiple classifications.

More to come