When Tupou Neiufi was just 2 years old, she was injured by a hit-and-run driver, leaving her with paralysis down the left side of her body and a traumatic brain injury that forced her to learn how to sit, walk and use her arms all over again. After years of therapy, one of her therapists suggested swimming as a way to strengthen her muscles and coordination.
That suggestion turned out to be a life changing one for Tupou. And now, at the age of 20, she is taking home a gold medal for her home country of New Zealand in the 100-meter S8 backstroke.
Tupou credits her family’s support for helping her succeed throughout her swimming career. “They just want to see me try my best,” she told Tearaway New Zealand. “They've been supportive no matter what . . . [My family is] . . . pretty much my main inspiration, because they’ve done so much for me and sacrificed so much for me—the least that I could do was give swimming my all.”
Her faith has also been a huge part of her life and an important part of her success. Her mother Lose told Newsroom, “Tupou's journey hasn't been easy. She has had many ups and downs in her life. Her faith and dedication has allowed her to not only carry out her responsibilities as a daughter of our Heavenly Father, but also go out and perform representing Him.”