Shapiro desperate to add to 2008 success
22 June 2012 | NICK GORDON
JOHANNESBURG - “I swim... a lot.”
One small sentence that offers a glimpse into the world of a dedicated, and inspirational swimmer who has overcome adversity and gone on to achieve Paralympic gold.
Shapiro was a promising swimmer who had already earned national colours before tragedy struck while water skiing on the Vaal Dam back in 2004. Aged 13 at the time, Shapiro was hit by a speedboat with the propeller of the vessel causing serious damage.
“The propeller of the speed boat came in at my navel and basically ripped my whole body in half. My pelvic girdle was in nine pieces, my whole hip and socket was detached. I’ve had to learn to walk again,” Shapiro told Super Saturday Citizen this week.
But the accident did little to deter Shapiro’s ambitions and just like the character of Dory in the animated movie Finding Nemo, who repeats the line “just keep swimming” several times, the young athlete got back in the pool.
“I think I always knew I had the potential to become an Olympic athlete. I was a national swimmer before I had my accident. So I always knew I had the potential to go really far in my sport. I just didn’t know if I had the motivation,” added the 100m backstroke gold medallist from the last edition of the Games in Beijing in 2008.
“My accident just gave me the kick to prove to myself and the rest of the world that I can make it back to the top. That was my main motivation. I was more driven than anything after my accident to just come back and show the world what I’m made of.”
This time around Shapiro is not only looking to defend her crown but to also add other prizes to her haul in her other two events, the 100m butterfly and the 50m freestyle.
“I think in London I obviously want to go and reclaim my title and hopefully come home with more than one medal.”
Shapiro admitted that in the two years following her Paralympic success she more focused on tackling Matric but now that the hurdle has been cleared she has been able to focus all her time on swimming.
“The first two years after Beijing were rocky. I matriculated and all my focus shifted to school. I did train but obviously not as much as I would’ve liked. After that my training has gone really well. I’m looking forward to the Games. I’m probably only going to start studying next year and luckily I’ve been given the opportunity to focus all my time and training onto what I need to do in London,” she said.
“My times have been dropping and they’re slowly getting there. But I’m saving it all for London. I’m very optimistic, I don’t want to say I’m very confident but I am optimistic and I know that I have the talent behind what I need to do.”
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