Kiwi sporting greats Lisa Carrington, Sophie Pascoe receive ultimate recognition in New Year Honours list

  • 31/12/2021

Olympic and Paralympic greats Lisa Carrington and Sophie Pascoe have both been named Dames of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2022 New Year Honours list.

In Tokyo this year, canoe racing star Carrington, 32, became New Zealand's most successful Olympian, with her haul of three gold medals, taking her total haul to five golds and a bronze across three different Olympics to surpass equestrian rider Sir Mark Todd and fellow paddlers Ian Ferguson and Paul MacDonald.

She also became the first Kiwi woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics.

"It's really special," Carrington tells Newshub. "It's just a huge honour to be recognised and not something I thought would ever happen."

The 10-time world champion supports and coaches young paddlers at her home club in Ōhope, and works with Canoe Racing New Zealand to help the sport grow.

"I know what I've put in and it's been a lot of hard work, but it's something I've wanted to do and constantly get better," Carrington adds.

"It just shines the light on the sport... that people see it as significant and the work hasnt gone unnoticed."

Swimming star Pascoe continued her remarkable run as New Zealand's most decorated Paralympian in Tokyo, taking her medal tally to 19, of which 11 are gold.

The 28-year-old has also been a vocal advocate for equality for people challenged with disabilities.

Carrington was crowned Sportswoman of the Decade at this year's Halberg Awards, while Pascoe took home Para-Athlete of the Decade.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says both Pascoe and Carrington are at a level of their own and their contributions go beyond simply competition.

"No one who saw them will forget Lisa Carrington's golden days on the water in Tokyo earlier this year," says Ardern.  

"But she is far more than our greatest ever Olympian. Humble and kind she is a role model for girls and boys across the country and continues to give back through her coaching of young paddlers.

"Sophie Pascoe is our greatest Paralympian, winning 19 medals across four Paralympic Games. A groundbreaker and trendsetter she is a role model within and beyond the disability community and an advocate for equality."

Carrington has her sights set on more medals at the 2024 Paris Olympics and hopes her success can continue to inspire her fellow Kiwis.

"For me to be able to achieve so highly, I guess is to not make it about the results, but for me to be able to do it, to reach more into myself to have reached that potential," says Carrington. "It's just trying to be better than I was the day before.

"I hope others see that and believe and do things that they thought they never could've."