Visually impaired swimmer Gia Pergolini, 17, won her very first gold medal during her debut at the Tokyo Paralympics on Thursday, Aug. 26, in the 100m backstroke S13. She beat the world record she set at the Paralympic Trials (1:05.31) - twice! In the video below, witness Pergolini set a new record during the second preliminary heat, with a time of 1:05.05. She then swam with a time of 1:04.64 in the 100m backstroke S13 finals, again setting a new record.
Who Is Gia Pergolini?
Pergolini started swimming when she was 4 years old and started competing when she was 5. She began losing her vision as a child, and by age 10 in 2014, she was diagnosed with Stargardt disease. This is an inherited disorder that affects the retina, the part of the eye that senses light.
The S13 classification is for visually impaired people who have slightly more visibility than those in the S12 or S11 categories. Pergolini shared with Team USA, "I can still see the flags and the wall, so that's a good advantage that I have, and I'm very grateful for that."
Pergolini didn't let her diagnosis stop her from swimming and began para swimming when she was 12 years old. Now, she has a gold medal to show for all her hard work and determination! Keep reading to see all the proud photos of her winning gold.