Trischa Zorn – the most successful Paralympian ever!

Mark Spitz of the United States won worldwide fame and a place in the sporting history books when he won seven gold medals in swimming at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Trischa Zorn, also a swimmer from the United states has equalled or bettered that haul on at least three occasions and yet received no such fame and adulation. The probable reason for this lack of worldwide fame? She did it in the Paralympic Games! Over a career covering seven Paralympic Games from Arnhem in 1980 to Athens in 2004 Trischa Zorn won an incredible haul of 37 gold, 9 silver and 5 bronze medals (51 medals in total). Many sources claim she actually won 41 gold medals. The discrepancy appears to be in New York in 1984 where many sources claim she actually won 10 gold medals, but not one of these sources lists the ten events the medals are supposed to have been won in. My own research using swimming timetables, results and newspaper coverage of the 1984 Games can only verify 6 gold medals in New York. It is true, however, that many results were missed out of the official results for New York across a number of sports and so if this claim is true she actually equalled or bettered Mark Spitz’s feat on no less than four occasions! Although, if she really had won ten gold medals in New York I would have expected the media in the United States, which gave a fair bit of coverage to the Games, to have mentioned this amazing feat. The missing four gold medals not withstanding Trischa Zorn also set 13 individual world records and 1 Paralympic Record as well as helping to set four team world records in relay events. Trischa was born with aniridia, which meant she was legally blind, although she could see shadows immediately in front of her, which allowed her to follow markers on the bottom of a swimming pool. She first swam at a Paralympic Games at the age of 16 and at her fifth Paralympic Games in Atlanta, 1996 had the honour of taking the Oath on behalf of the athletes.

Summary of Trischa Zorn’s confirmed achievements by Games:

G

S

B

IWR

TWR

PR

1980

7

0

0

3

1

0

1984

6

0

0

1

0

0

1988

12

0

0

7

1

0

1992

10

2

0

3

2

1

1996

2

3

3

0

0

0

2000

0

4

1

0

0

0

2004

0

0

1

0

0

0

Total

37

9

5

13

4

1

Breakdown of Medal winning events by Games:

Arnhem, 1980 (7 Gold Medals, 3 Individual & 1 Team World Records)

Gold – 100 m backstroke B (WR)

Gold – 100 m butterfly B (WR)

Gold – 100 m freestyle B (WR)

Gold – 200 m individual medley B

Gold – 400 m individual medley B

Gold – 4 × 100 m freestyle A-B

Gold – 4 × 100 m medley A-B (WR)

New York, 1984 (6 Gold Medals 1 Individual World Record)

Gold – 100 m backstroke B2

Gold – 100 m butterfly B2

Gold – 100 m freestyle B2 (WR)

Gold – 200 m individual medley B2

Gold – 400 m individual medley B2

Gold – 4 × 100 m medley B1-3

Seoul, 1988 (12 Gold Medals, 7 Individual & 1 Team World Record)

Gold – 50 m breaststroke B2 (WR)

Gold – 50 m freestyle B2 (WR)

Gold – 100 m backstroke B2 (WR)

Gold – 100 m breaststroke B2 (WR)

Gold – 100 m butterfly B2 (WR)

Gold – 100 m freestyle B2

Gold – 200 m breaststroke B2 (WR)

Gold – 200 m individual medley B2 (WR)

Gold – 400 m freestyle B2

Gold – 400 m individual medley B2

Gold – 4 x 100 m freestyle B1-3

Gold – 4 x 100 m medley B1-3 (WR)

Barcelona, 1992 (10 Gold, 2 Silver Medals, 3 Individual & 2 Team World Records, 1 Individual Paralympic Record)

Gold – 50 m freestyle B2

Gold – 100 m backstroke B2 (WR)

Gold – 100 m breaststroke B1-2

Gold – 100 m freestyle B2 (WR)

Gold – 200 m backstroke B1-2 (WR)

Gold – 200 m breaststroke B1-3

Gold – 200 m individual medley B2 (PR)

Gold – 400 m individual medley B1-3

Gold – 4 x 100 m freestyle B1-3 (WR)

Gold – 4 x 100 m medley B1-3 (WR)

Silver – 100 m butterfly B2-3

Silver – 400 m freestyle B2-3

Atlanta, 1996 (2 Gold, 4 Silver, 1 Bronze Medal)

Gold – 100 m backstroke B2

Gold – 200 m individual medley B2

Silver – 50 m freestyle B2

Silver – 400 m freestyle B2

Silver – 4 × 100 m medley B1-3

Bronze – 100 m breaststroke B2

Bronze – 100 m freestyle B2

Bronze – 4 × 100 m freestyle B1-3

Sydney 2000 (4 Silver, 1 Bronze Medal)

Silver – 100 m backstroke S12

Silver – 100 m breaststroke SB12

Silver – 100 m butterfly S12

Silver – 200 m individual medley SM12

Bronze – 50 m breaststroke S12

Athens, 2004 (1 Bronze Medal)

Bronze – 100 m backstroke S12

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