Athens 2004
Paralympic Games
23 September - 04 October

No. 21: Zorn's 55th and final medal

When US swimmer Trischa Zorn won her 55th and final Paralympic medal at the Athens 2004 Games, she cemented her place in the record books as the most decorated Paralympian in history. 02 Sep 2014
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Trischa Zorn

Trischa Zorn is the most successful Paralympian of all-time, having won 55 medals including 41 golds

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By IPC

Over the course of three decades and seven successive Paralympic Games, Zorn’s marathon medal haul included 41 gold, nine silver and five bronze medals.

Touching the wall for bronze in the women’s 100m backstroke S12, even at the age of 40 and on her retirement, the visually impaired swimmer was still amongst the best in the world.

At the time, Swimming World Magazine pointed out that Zorn had won 13 more medals during her distinguished career than Great Britain who, at the time, were leading the medals table on day seven of the Games.

Born with complete blindness, Zorn began swimming at the age of 10 and less than six years later burst onto the Games scene to win an incredible seven gold medals at the Arnhem 1980 Paralympics, setting three world records along the way.

In 1984 she won a further six titles, and added 12 more in Seoul in 1988. She was unbeaten in individual Paralympic races until Barcelona 1992 when, a world record performance from her teammate Elizabeth Scott, beat her into silver medal position.

Despite the loss, she still left the Games with 10 golds and two silvers.

Over the course of three decades and seven successive Paralympic Games, Zorn’s marathon medal haul included 41 gold, nine silver and five bronze medals.

To mark her monumental career, she was flag bearer for the US team at the Closing Ceremony of the Athens Games.

Such is the gravity of her achievements that USA Swimming named an annual award after her and at London 2012 the most successful Paralympian ever was inducted into the Visa Paralympic Hall of Fame.

Unbelievably two of Zorn’s world records, the 200m backstroke and 400m individual medley, still stand today, demonstrating that her amazing athleticism lives on even as training techniques and para-swimming have developed.

As well as being a teacher for 10 years, as an attorney Zorn has helped wounded American servicemen and women get into para-sport through the Department of Veterans Affairs. She has also worked as an athlete representative on the United States Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Advisory Council.