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NZ’s best finish at IPC world champs

August 19, 2013
Sophie Pascoe

Sophie Pascoe

Fifteen medals, a best-ever finish of fourth on the medal table; New Zealand’s team made a substantial impact on the world IPC swimming championships which ended in Montreal yesterday.

Attention will now turn to a busy year ahead, which includes the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, with eyes starting to turn towards the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

Canterbury’s Sophie Pascoe and Wellington’s Mary Fisher were the dominant pair in the team of seven.

Each won five gold medals, and Fisher picked up a silver as well. Pascoe produced personal bests in each event, culminating in the S10 50m freestyle yesterday, in which she broke her own world record, clocking 27.78s.

Young Cambridge swimmer Nikita Howarth backed up a bronze on the penultimate night with her first gold medal in the SM7 category 200m individual medley, recording 3m 02.70s. Northland’s Cameron Leslie won a gold and a bronze to round out a superb team effort.

“It’s a terrific achievement, and what it’s done is given our team the confidence to go forward with greater self belief and momentum,” high performance boss Jon Shaw said yesterday. “We’re coming home with four world champions.”

Pascoe, who has already won 10 Paralympic medals over the last two Games in Beijing and London, was ecstatic with her return. “It’s been a hard year coming from London but doing a personal best in every single final, I couldn’t have asked for more.”

Fisher spoke of her relief once the swimming was completed: “I couldn’t have asked for anything more here.”

Four up-and-coming swimmers will be invited to a high performance camp at the Millennium Institute on the North Shore in November, as Paralympics New Zealand looks to spread the base.

“It’s very exciting,” Shaw said. “We will be focusing over the next four to eight years in broadening that base,” said Shaw. “With Sophie, Mary, Nikita and Cameron leading the way, they’ve drawn a lot of attention to these athletes.”

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