Many Kiwi athletes have amazing stories. Few are as inspirational as Sophie Pascoe's.

New Zealand's most successful Paralympian, and arguably one of our greatest athletes, was in Rotorua on Tuesday to tell the story behind her swimming success.

Paralympian Sophie Pascoe shared the story of her success as a swimmer in Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker
Paralympian Sophie Pascoe shared the story of her success as a swimmer in Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker

Pascoe has represented New Zealand at three Summer Paralympic Games, winning a total of nine gold medals and six silver medals.

When she was 2, she was accidentally run over by her father on the family ride-on lawnmower. Both her legs were caught under the cutter deck. As a result, her left leg was amputated below the knee.

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She spoke at Rotorua Girls' High School and at a lunch function at Blue Baths - the key messages were based on maintaining a strong mentality, in all walks of life, and figuring out what drives you.

When asked what her proudest moment was, she struggled to choose one, but said every time she stood behind the podium and heard the New Zealand national anthem played after winning gold was special.

Paralympian Sophie Pascoe spoke about leadership, desire and mentality, among other things, during her time in Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker
Paralympian Sophie Pascoe spoke about leadership, desire and mentality, among other things, during her time in Rotorua. Photo / Stephen Parker

"It's the fact that I can stand on a podium and change my father's image from that accident when I was 2, into becoming a world champion.

"I'm a proud daughter, I'm a proud athlete and a proud New Zealander. I have a stubborn old father, who doesn't show much emotion, so when I stand on the podium and see him shed a tear - that's really powerful," Pascoe said.