Second book response

Second book response  

Sophie Pascoe

Published by Tony Smith


“Stroke of fate”  


“ I believe I can be an inspiration to the challenges that athletes face rather than the disability” This is a quote in the Novel “ Stroke of fate” spoken by the inspiring Sophie Pascoe. “Stroke of fate” written by Tony Smith is a novel about the life of 9 time Paralympic champion Sophie Pascoe. The biography shows the bravery and determination of Sophie Pascoe as she learns to cope with one leg from the age of 2. This story is a book that all New Zealand teenagers should read to develop some respect for our athletes courage. Throughout the story Sophie’s life is told from when she loses her left leg to when she wins her first gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Struggling throughout her journey, Sophie shows the reader how hard work and determination is rewarding when she starts to become world champion.

Pascoes life gives an inspirational message to athletes all across the globe. When Sophie was just 2 years of age her father accidentally ran her over in the lawn mower which resulted in both her legs being cut up in the blades. Her left leg had to be amputated and her right leg was left with severe scarring. From the beginning Sophie shows us as readers that losing a leg was not going to stop her from achieving her dreams. She started swimming competitively when she was just 7 years of age. ” From the moment I won my first race I was hooked” This is a statement that Sophie says in her book as she fell in love with swimming after her first race. She was instantly attracted to the feeling of winning. In the novel she shows the reader’s how she is inspiring. When Sophie starts her new school she has to compete in swimming sports, every day prior to this no one at school had seen Sophie’s missing leg. Sophie does swimming sports in front of the whole school beating the able bodied swimmers. This shows the school that just because she is missing a leg doesn’t mean she is any worse at swimming than they are. This part of the story inspired me as when Sophie first started at the school she wore long pants so people didn’t see her impairment. She then decides that people will have to respect her for the way that she is and gets in her togs and does swimming sports this helps to develop her sense of self pride by competing. This part of the story made me feel really motivated and try my best in all areas of my sports that I compete in. It made me feel privileged to be able to compete in fully able bodied sports without anybody passing judgement about what I look like. I think it is inspiring to me that Sophie was willing to put herself out there and fail in front of a whole school in order to prove the point that she can be successful. I felt that I need to be braver in my sport when reading this, as I need to not worry about failing but put my self out there in order to win.  

Another part of the story which was inspiring to me was when Sophie was still a child she knew she wanted to be a Paralympian. When she was around the age of 10 her grandfather passed away to whom she was very close with. The night before he passes away she makes a vow to him to win a gold medal. I think this part of the story is inspirational as she shows that she is determined from a very young age to become a Paralympic Champion. She won her first Paralympic gold medal at the Beijing Olympics and dedicated it to her grandpa. “When the NZ anthem came on I knew he was looking down on me” When she won the medal Sophie felt the presence of her grandfather looking down on her as she stood on the podium with the NZ anthem playing.I felt a lot of respect for Sophie as when depressing times like her grandfathers death could have resulted in her giving up but instead she pushed on making a positive out of the situation showing her mental strength. I think Sophie is mentally strong because she is able to block out emotions and focus on her drive to succeed in swimming. 

One part of the book that made me respect Sophie Pascoe was that she holds no resentment against her father as he was the one who ran her over in the lawn mower. When Sophie’s father ran her over it was by complete accident, her father did everything he could to get Sophie to the hospital and healthy again. Sophie understood this from a child and holds no grudge or anger against her father. In the novel she even goes to say that maybe it was fate or she wouldn’t be doing the things she’s doing now. Her father was much more traumatized by the incident than Sophie was as he says “It still haunts me today”. She has changed a negative situation into a positive situation which made me respect Sophie’s personality to always look on the bright side of life. It would be easy for her to have resentment and think that her father had ruined her life from a young age. Instead she has chosen to take the positive outlook about her incident and embrace the fact that she can compete in the Paralympic games and inspire other disabled and able bodied athletes. This area of the text made me feel humbled by Sophie’s continuous bravery and determination because she had many hardships happen at such a young age including her losing her leg and the grandfather she was so close with. I felt very lucky to have had such a easy start to my life with very little hiccups. It made me contrast with the Michael Phelps book “Beneath the surface” and his start to life as a swimmer. Michael Phelps parents paid for personal coaching and looked after him very well and he had no hardships as a kid. But in Michael Phelps Novel he continually complains to his coach and is rude to his parents about how hard is life is. When comparing these texts it made me feel frustrated that someone so humble as Sophie Pascoe has such little recognition compared to Michael Phelps when she is so much more deserving due to her great attitude.  

Throughout most of the Novel I was very humbled by Sophie pascoes modesty and determination for success. However towards the end of the biography one idea brought me to think that her journey to the Paralympics was slightly selfish. I felt some disrespect to all athletes when reading her life story due to the hardship and amount of pressure that is put on a professional athletes family. From a young age Sophie competes in many swimming events and training which costs her family a lot of money. They are constantly having to pay for her coaches fees, her competition fees and her training equipment. This could put a lot of financial stress on a family for the desires of one person. When Sophie starts to do well at her swimming she begins to start travelling overseas which has to be paid for from her parents. International travel is very expensive so Sophie’s parents have even larger financial stress on them whereas the money could have been used for the whole family to go overseas on holidays. Therefore I believe that all international athletes have to be selfish to put such a financial burden on there families. 

Another reason I developed the opinion that being a international athlete is selfish was how Sophie constantly needed emotional support from her parents when she was having a hard day’s training. When she thought that she didn’t want to swim or that she would never be good enough to win her parents were always by her side encouraging her to keep trying. This would have been emotionally hard on her parents as they had to believe in Sophie that she was gonna make it to the Paralympics and that she was good enough to win. I felt that Sophie would have had to be slightly selfish to be so demanding on her parents. I could relate to this area of the story as I compete at mountain biking events across the country and my family has to pay for my travel. I feel selfish to have to spend so much money to get the enjoyment from competing and doing well. This part of the novel also helped me to develop the idea that Sophie was very lucky to have a supporting family. If She had come from a very poor family which had issues such as divorce or struggle she wouldn’t have been able to compete. When I put myself in Sophie’s shoes I believed she was a privileged child based on the support she had not only from her parents but her grandparents, friends and school. In one area of the book Sophie goes to Beijing to compete in the Paralympics. Her school helps her to fund raise for her travel and when she returns the held a celebration for her and gave her gifts on stage. I felt that she was almost spoilt for the amount of people supporting her. I felt that as a teenager living in a first world country I can relate to being very spoilt for support with my parents encouragement to compete in all my sporting events and my friends embracing my successes with me.  

One Message the Sophie tried to convey through her book was that she didn’t want to be treated as a disabled athlete. Sophie wanted to be treated as a professional athlete and compared with all able bodied athletes This gave me a sense of empowerment when reading her Novel. At the beginning of the text Sophie was nominated for Sports women of the year. This was a big achievement for a disabled athlete to be nominated against able bodied sportsman’s. In her story she talks about how proud she was of this nomination and that she was happy to be compared with all athletes. ” I felt respected and congratulated to be nominated against all NZ athletes” was one remark she had when discussing her nomination. Then two years after this nomination she wins disabled sportswoman of the year. Sophie becomes very disappointed and hurt to not be compared with all athletes. She feels it is unnecessary to have her own category of a disabled athlete and she felt that it demoralized her being an athlete. I agreed with how Sophie felt being categorized as a disabled athlete and not just an athlete. I thought that it was unfair that she should be treated any different to anybody else as her achievements are the same and deserve to be respected. This made me compare to issues we have today as we don’t want to categorize people by ethnicity and rather just as people. If we separated awards for African, Asian and European people this would be racist and hurt full to each race, so why should it be any different for disabled and non disabled athlete? .

I believe Sophie Pascoe does an amazing job with her writer Tony Smith to create a Novel which show the true hardship and success that Sophie has had so far in her sports career. It is a very precious story that New Zealanders need to read so that we can understand how hard it is for one of our own athletes to compete. I think it would be a great Novel for teenagers to read to develop a sense of respect for our disabled athletes. They can learn that disabled athletes are as inspirational as any able bodied athlete. The novel is well written and gives a great understanding of what someone disabled may go through growing up.

2 thoughts on “Second book response”

  1. Kim, you have included some effective reflections about the details in this text. Additional supportive quotations would further strengthen your discussion. Are you able to bring this text to class?

  2. Hi Kim. I have re-read through this response as requested, and I had one consistent thought in this re-reading: I wanted to know the “why” behind many of your statements. I.e. Why can Sophie specifically be seen as “inspiring”? Why did you feel motivated to compete more effectively in your sports? Why do you feel privileged in what you have after reading this text?
    – There are a number of places where I think you can secure the point you are making by being more specific to the “why.”
    I hope this final guidance helps 🙂

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