Could a paralympic athlete ever mount a stronger case to top the Halberg Awards than Sophie Pascoe this year?

Five medals at Rio 2016, three golds, a world record and New Zealand's all-time greatest paralympic athlete. With a total of 15 medals, including nine gold, Pascoe is a shining light of Kiwi sport.

A tragic lawn mower accident before her 2nd birthday meant Pascoe's left leg had to be amputated below the knee. She started swimming a year later and has gone on to blaze a trail for paralympic sport in this country.

The charm of Pascoe's achievements reached an emotional high in Rio when the Christchurch swimmer burst into tears on the dais.


Sitting at the bedside of her dying grandfather 14 years ago, Pascoe pledged to "Gragra" that she would win a Paralympic gold to honour him. She has done far more than that. And at 23, Pascoe has another Olympic cycle in her and more medals for the taking.

Other great Kiwi paralympic athletes are joining Pascoe's lead already, including fellow swimmer Mary Fisher, the only other athlete to win the disabled Halberg other than Pascoe since the category was added in 2011.

Pascoe has claimed the award four out of five times, but has never been seen by the judges as deserving the supreme award above her able-bodied peers.

And if the judges don't deem her to have done so now, it's difficult to see how they ever will.