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What disability does Gia Pergolini have? Meet the Paralympic swimmer

Amber Peake August 26, 2021
2020 Tokyo Paralympics - Day 1
Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

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After placing fifth in the S13 women’s 100m butterfly final yesterday (Wednesday 25 August) at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic games Gia Pergolini is set to take the water again today (Thursday 26 August) for the women’s 100m backstrokes S13 final. As she competes in this year’s Paralympic games, some are curious to know more about Gia Pergolini’s disability.

Who is Gia Pergolini?

Gia Pergolini, born 3 February 2004 is a 17-year-old swimmer known for competing in both freestyle and backstroke.

Pergolini’s passion for swimming started young with the now Paralympian competing professionally as part of club teams from the age of five.

Before making her Paralympic debut at Tokyo 2020, the swimmer has previously won silver for backstroke at both the 2017 world championships in Mexico City and world championships in London in 2019.

In the games so far, Pergolini has already placed fifth in the S13 women’s 100m butterfly final and is set to compete in the finals of the S13 women’s 100m backstroke today (26 August). Later this week she will also compete in the S13 women’s 50-meter freestyle on Sunday (29 August).

Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images
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Gia Pergolini opens up on disability

The athlete has Stargardt disease, a genetic eye condition which causes gradual vision loss over time. She was diagnosed with the condition when she was ten years old in 2014.

Looking back on her condition, Pergolini has previously admitted she first noticed she had trouble with her vision in kindergarten.

In an interview with Team USA, she explained: “In kindergarten, I had trouble seeing, but not to the extent it is now.

“But no one knew what was wrong with me. A lot of people thought I was faking it. It wasn’t until I was 10 and in fourth grade that they found out I had Stargardt disease.”

Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images
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Swimmer on reaching Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020 is Gia Pergolini’s first Paralympics with the athlete having reflected on her swimming career leading up to this year’s games in a post on Instagram on Sunday (22 August).

Posing in front of the pool where she would compete within the games, she wrote: “Well guys, five years in the making for this very moment.

“Words can’t describe how grateful I am for this amazing opportunity . I couldn’t have done without all the people that’s in my life right now. And come this Thursday, I can’t wait to put on a show for all them.”

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Amber is an entertainment journalist with a love for anything showbiz, celeb or reality TV. After graduating with a degree in Journalism at Brunel University she became a Showbiz Reporter at Express.co.uk. Having written for both HITC and The Focus, Amber is now a staff writer for The Focus covering the latest celeb and entertainment trends.