“It was my hope to win a medal in Athens in memory of my mother. She had passed away in June 2004 from cancer and had never missed a Paralympic Games that I had competed in."
With a bronze medal at Athens 2004, US swimmer Trischa Zorn crowned a glittering career which included 55 Paralympic medals, made up of 41 golds, nine silvers and five bronze, across seven Paralympic Games.
As we approach the Americas Paralympic Committee’s (APC) 20th anniversary on 1 August, Zorn’s 55th medal comes in at No.13 at the APC Top 20 Moments in History.
Despite sealing multiple titles throughout her career, the most decorated Paralympic athlete ever admits the last bronze she took has a special place in her heart.
“It was my hope to win a medal in Athens in memory of my mother,” explained Zorn. “She had passed away in June 2004 from cancer and had never missed a Paralympic Games that I had competed in and it was hard knowing she was not going to be there.
“That was the most significant medal I won. It was more important than all the golds I had previously claimed. With the interruption in training and emotional stress, winning a medal at my last Games was a tribute to my mom.
“The bronze was for her, representing all of her love, support and encouragement throughout my swimming career.”
Zorn, a 2012 Paralympic Hall of Fame inductee, finished third in the women’s 100m backstroke S12 with a time of 1:14.99, behind China’s Hongyan Zhu (1:08.89) and Poland’s Patrycja Harajda (1:14.18).
“The race itself was a blur. But hearing at the finish I had won bronze it was an overwhelming amount of emotions.
“I looked up and said ‘This one is for you Mom.’ It was a huge relief as well, having the stress of my mom's passing and still trying to prepare for the Games.
“I did not really celebrate afterwards, but shared my success with my family and teammates.”
Athens 2004 was the last Paralympics Zorn took part in. “I knew it was going to be my last Games because of my professional career commitment beginning after. Further, with my physical injuries of my back and shoulders I knew it was time to retire from swimming.
“The most important thing was to be recognized and known as a good sportsman and inspiring and motivating individual to others.
“Records are meant to be broken and I would be excited to meet the individual who would be able to meet that mark (outdo her 55-medal record).”