Five-Time Brazilian Paralympic Medalist Joana Neves Dies at Age 37

Joana Neves, a Brazilian sprint specialist who picked up five medals over the past three Paralympic Games, died on March 18 from cardiac arrest while hospitalized in Sao Paulo.

The 37-year-old, who was born with achondroplasia — the most common form of dwarfism — was undergoing tests to figure out why she was suffering from seizures recently when she went into cardiac arrest. Neves took up swimming at 10 years old based on medical advice and enjoyed a successful 12-year career competing on the senior international stage.

Neves won her first World Championships medal back in 2010 and last competed at the 2022 World Championships, breaking the Americas record in the 50 butterfly S5 (45.06) in Madeira. She made history in 2015 as the first Brazilian woman to win a world title with her 50 free S5 victory in Glasgow. Also known as Peixinha, or the little fish, Neves totaled 11 Worlds medals throughout her career.

Neves made her Paralympic debut at the London 2012 Games, bringing home a bronze medal in the 50 butterfly S5. She secured a silver medal in the 50 free S5 and a bronze in the 100 free S5 at the Rio 2016 Paralympics while also adding a silver in the mixed 200 free relay. A native of Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Neves wrapped up her Paralympic career at the Tokyo Games in 2021, earning another relay medal with Brazil’s 200 free relay team.

“We are dismayed by the departure of Joana Neves, our Joaninha,” Brazilian Paralympic Committee (CPB) president Mizael Conrado said. “So much charisma outside the pools, so much determination when she fell into the water to represent our country, her state, Rio Grande do Norte, her friends and her family. How many people were proud of Joaninha’s achievements. And how much joy she gave us. She was a tremendous athlete. May God, in his infinite kindness, comfort the hearts of family and friends.”

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1 month ago

🙏 Prayers for her family.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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