Paralympics: Kiwi swimming great Dame Sophie Pascoe withdraws from Paris Games

  • 29/04/2024
Dame Sophie Pascoe.
Dame Sophie Pascoe. Photo credit: Getty Images

Kiwi Paralympics great Dame Sophie Pascoe has withdrawn from the upcoming Paris Games.

On Monday, Dame Sophie announced her decision not to compete in France, citing her desire to focus on motherhood. Earlier this month, Pascoe and husband Rob Samson welcomed their first child - a son.

New Zealand's most decorated Paralympian, the swimming star has featured at the past four Paralympics for New Zealand, winning 19 medals - 11 of them gold.

Pascoe says she intends on returning to competition at a later date.

"Although I'll miss the opportunity to represent New Zealand in Paris, this decision comes as a result of recently becoming a new mother and I am wholeheartedly embracing this new chapter in my life," said Pascoe. 

"Representing New Zealand is an honour and privilege and I remain committed to contributing my experience and knowledge to the New Zealand team in their preparations.  

"This is not an announcement of retirement from competitive swimming, rather I am looking ahead to potential competitions in 2025 and beyond."

Dame Sophie has won disabled sportsperson of the year on six occasions at the Halberg Awards and was named paraathlete of the decade in 2020. In 2022, Pascoe was made a dame companion of the NZ Order of Merit for services to swimming.

Paralympics New Zealand chief executive Greg Warnacke says Dame Sophie has their wholehearted support.

"Whilst not in Paris for the upcoming Paralympic Games, the NZ paralympic team will still benefit knowing that they have [Pascoe] right behind them, and supporting our paralympians on from New Zealand.

"It's such an exciting time for Dame Sophie and her family, and we know she will be helping spread the news about the performances of our Paralympians at Paris 2024 with everyone."