Swimmer Tupou Neiufi has claimed New Zealand’s first gold medal at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics!
Tupou is a member of the Pukekohe Swimming Club that trains at Franklin Pool and Leisure, managed by Belgravia Leisure New Zealand.
The overwhelming emotion of the moment was certainly clear to see after Tupou had produced a stunning swim to win the S8 100m backstroke final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
The South Auckland swimmer, who as a two-year-old suffered debilitating injuries after being hit by a car, led from start to finish tonight, stopping the clock in a time of 1:16.84 to take gold by 1.47 seconds.
Tupou burst into tears after taking off her goggles and seeing what she had achieved, roared on in the stands by a small but vocal Kiwi contingent led by a delighted Sophie Pascoe.
“As soon as I touched the wall, I had no idea what was going on, I was so confused,” Tupou said. “And then I heard my teammates cheering and I was like, ‘Oh, I probably should look up [at the big screen]’.
“By the time I looked up I was so shocked – and it still feels surreal this moment,” Tupou explained.
Belgravia Leisure’s General Manager New Zealand, Mark Blake said, “A big congratulations to Tupou on an outstanding effort and getting the ball rolling for New Zealand in a fantastic Paralympics win. Also congratulations to our own head coach, Sheldon Kemp who leads a great team of swimmers at Franklin Pool and Leisure, including Tupou our very own superstar!”