Blind Teenage Swimmer Becomes Viral Hero After Overcoming Her Disability to Compete in Tokyo 2021
After losing her sight at 14 years old, Anastasia Pagonis had to face the hard truth of her disability: that life would never be the same. But as you'll come to learn, her story is not one of tragedy, but one that is unprecedented as it is inspiring.
"It took me about eight months to kind of regroup myself," she told TODAY, "and then I got it in my head, 'Okay, I'm blind. Now what am I going to do with my life?'"
As fate would have it, Anastasia had taken up the sport of competitive freestyle swimming just months before becoming fully blind. However, she says she quit the sport - one in which she excelled - because of constant bullying from her fellow swim mates.
Paralympian Anastasia Pagonis' remarkable success story began when she lost her vision at age 14. Granted, it's a tough age for any teen, but dealing with a life-changing disability made things even more challenging.
It wasn't long after losing her sight that the tenacious teen began to take up the sport she loved just a few months prior. Inspired by her newly found invigorated attitude, Anastasia told TODAY that swimming just for the sake of the activity wasn't enough. In her words, "she wanted to compete."
After rededicating herself to her passion, she faced a new dilemma. As she said in an interview with TEAM USA, "Nobody wanted to train the blind girl."
Not to one to bow to adversity, it took Pagonis eight months to find an "amazing coach" that was willing to train her.
"I ended up after about eight months finding an amazing coach who was willing to train me and actually put on blackout goggles to try to figure out a way for me to swim."
Soon after re-entering competitive swimming, Anastasia won two gold medals at the World Para Simming World Series in Australia, becoming a global role model for those with disabilities in the process.
As of this writing, Anastasia is training to compete for her dream competition, the Tokyo 2021 paralympic games. A betting man would be wise not to wager against her, as she's already made a habit out of beating the odds.
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