Blind swimmer a true inspiration to others

By Michael Brown

The motto for the London Olympics and Paralympics was "inspire a generation", and Paralympic swimmer Mary Fisher hopes she did that with her four-medal haul in August.

Fisher is totally blind and claimed a gold, two silvers and a bronze in London, as well as a world record, swimming in the S11 class on her Paralympics debut. Her feats have been recognised in the New Year's Honours list with membership of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Fellow Paralympic medallist Phillipa Gray, who is sight and hearing impaired, and her pilot Laura Fairweather also became members of the order of merit after claiming gold in the B (tandem) women's pursuit in world record time, silver in the tandem women's road time trial and bronze in the tandem women's 1km time trial.

Just being named in the New Zealand team was something Fisher had dreamed of. To win four medals and set a new world record was beyond anything she thought possible.

She was the final Kiwi to compete in London and set the world record in her last race, the 200m individual medley.

The 19-year-old Massey University student has since spoken regularly to school and community groups as well as at corporate functions about what she achieved and how life has changed.

"The biggest thing is having confidence I can achieve my dreams," she said. "Coming home it's been great to talk to loads of different people and hopefully instil in them that I am just a regular Kiwi and it's possible to achieve what I have done in any aspect of your lives.

"It's so weird coming from that kid at school or girl guides and having people come and talk to us ... and then a decade on to make it to that top level and hopefully bring some inspiration to those kids. The medals are just a bonus."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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