Once the Olympics comes to end, it’s time for the Paralympics! By far, one of the biggest, brightest breakout stars of the 2021 Paralympics is Anastasia Pagonis. This incredible young lady broke her own record and won a gold medal at just 17 years old – that’s right! However, there’s much more to her story than a gold medal win…
Anastasia Pagonis Becomes A New Paralympic Star
Anastasia Pagonis, a Long Island, New York native, has always loved sports. As a young girl, she grew up playing soccer. Sadly, at the age of 12, however, all that began to change. As a pre-teen, Pagonis lost her vision due to a genetic retina disease and autoimmune retinopathy. Through it all, the young woman retained her love of sports. When she became completely blind, she wanted a way to stay active. So, her doctor suggested she try swimming.
Now, Pagonis has become one of the biggest Paralympic stars of all time! Along the way, she’s earned a massive social media following of over 200,000 on Instagram and 2 million on TikTok. There, the athlete uses her amazing platform to educate others not only about the blind community, but also about adaptive sports.
Meanwhile, her guide dog, Radar, has also become a massive social media star! The two found each other a year ago, after Radar trained for two years with the Guide Dog Foundation and the New York Islanders. The famed hockey team selected Radar as its first “Puppy with a Purpose” back in 2018. Now, he’s been matched with Pagonis.
So, how did Pagonis do at the 2021 Paralympics? Read on to find out…
Blind Teen’s Success Story
No questions asked, Anastasia Pagonis will go down in athlete history. After all, in her first major international meet ever, at the 2021 Paralympics, the 17-year-old broke her own world record. That’s right! She finished the 400m freestyle S11 with a jaw-dropping time of 4:54.49. That put the swimmer an entire 10.85 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Of course, that incredible performance earned Pagonis a gold medal, America’s first of the Tokyo Paralympics. Later in the Paralympics, Pagonis competed in the women’s 200-meter medley, where she set another U.S. record with a time of 2:45:61, earning her a bronze medal.
“Honored to represent my country,” Pagonis wrote on Instagram after her wins. “Humbled to swim with the best athletes in the world. Blessed to have the most incredible family, friends, teammates and of course my Coach, Marc – standing beside me, with me and behind me on this unbelievable journey.”
We’re excited to continue to watch Anastasia Pagonis as she continues to become one of the most prominent star athletes in the United States!