'Pride and honour': Dame Sophie Pascoe coming to terms with newly earned title

After another remarkable year in the pool, New Zealand's most successful Paralympian now has another title to add.

Sophie Pascoe has been appointed a Dame in the New Year's Honours - the youngest to ever be given the title - joining Lisa Carrington as the other athlete to be made a Dame.

It was arduous, at times emotional, but 2021 was a hugely successful year for Sophie Pascoe. But even after more Paralympic triumph, the year has ended with her greatest honour of all - becoming a Dame.

"I've taken this title with absolute pride and honour," Dame Sophie tells Newshub. "I don't think it's really sunk in yet."

Dame Sophie became New Zealand's most successful Paralympian at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Her four medals in Tokyo this year - two of them gold - cement her greatness. It took her overall medal tally to 19, 11 of those gold.

But becoming a Dame is particularly significant as she continues to champion para sport.

"This will hopefully be really impactful in a positive way to people living with a disability," Dame Sophie adds.

"But not only that, to people within the swimming community."

And Dame Sophie plans to continue doing that for some time yet. Her next goal is the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, but she's no clearer on whether a fifth Paralympics in Paris in 2024 are within reach.

"At this stage, I'm just having the short-term goal of the Commonwealth Games. So I really look forward to those games and haven't planned anything after that."

Regardless of what Dame Sophie's future holds, she's already set the benchmark in para sport, and now has the title to go with it.