Tokyo – Gutsy medal-heavy swim queen Sophie Pascoe has been the Kiwi rock star of the Paralympics but long jumper Anna Grimaldi’s comeback feat against adversity today was astonishing.
Grimaldi is now a double Paralympic champion, winning gold in Tokyo today, repeating the same feat in Rio 2016 five years ago.
Five years ago, the then Dunedin teenager won New Zealand’s first gold medal at the Rio 2016, snatching the event at her last attempt. Then Grimaldi’s fortunes plummeted.
Months after Rio, she suffered a serious stress career-threatening broken foot. Her recovery was instead painfully slow, and she wondered if she would ever be fully fit again.
It wasn’t until three years later in 2019 that Grimaldi began to improve , with a second-place performance at the world championships in Dubai.
Last year she bettered her 5.62m jump that won gold in Rio. This last summer Grimaldi, born without her right hand, extended her personal best to 5.91m, which is within striking distance of the world record.
The 24 year old Otago polytech quantity surveying student is one of 29 athletes in the Paralympic team.
Today Grimaldi defied the rain to defend her title, twice surpassing the Paralympic record to secure gold with a best of 5.76m.
She was overcome with emotion after winning the event today.
“I’m in a whirlwind. There has been so much that has gone into this for the past five years and I owe a lot to a lot of people. I hope I did them proud out there.
“It has been a huge five years and I just feel the weight of the world has lifted off my shoulders.”
“In Rio I won by accident. But I’ve changed as a person, and I hoped it is obvious to people watching how different I am. I’m really proud.”