Joana Neves dead at 37: Paralympic swimmer dies after cardiac arrest as tributes paid for ‘great, charismatic athlete’

A SWIMMER who won five medals in three Paralympics has died aged just 37.

Brazilian Joana Neves went into cardiac arrest in the early hours of yesterday morning after being admitted to hospital on Sunday night feeling unwell.

Swimmer Joana Neves, far right in green, has died aged just 37Credit: Getty
Neves won five medals in three ParalympicsCredit: Getty
Here she is at the 2022 World Para Swimming ChampionshipsCredit: Getty

She had travelled to the city of Sao Paulo for tests after suffering fits.

Joana, known affectionately as Peixinha which means Little Fish in English or Joaninha, was born with bone growth disorder achondroplasia that results in dwarfism due to a genetic mutation in the arms and legs.

During her glittering career she won a total of 15 medals in world paralympic swimming championships between 2013 and 2022 after taking up swimming on medical advice as a 10-year-old and starting to compete three years later.

She also took part in three Paralympics, winning two silver and three bronze medals at London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.


Mizael Conrado, President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee, said in a tribute to the athlete, who hailed from the city of Natal in the north-east state of Rio Grande do Norte: “We are devastated at the departure of Joana Neves, our Joaninha.

“So much charisma out of the pool, so much determination when she entered the water to represent our country, Rio Grande do Norte, her friends and her family.

“How many people were proud of Joaninha’s achievements and how many joys she gave us. She was a great athlete.”

Her club Sadef RN said in a statement yesterday confirming her death: “Parathlete swimmer Joana Neves died this morning in Sao Paulo.

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“She was in the city undergoing tests to seek a diagnosis of seizures she had recently suffered.

“On Sunday night, after feeling unwell at the Paralympic Training Centre she was taken to hospital but was unable to resist after going into cardiac arrest.”

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A club spokesman added: “At the last World Cup in 2022, she won four medals and broke two records.

“During her career she had 15 podium finishes at World Cups between 2013 and 2022.

“In 2020, she was voted Brazil‘s best Paralympic swimmer in the best swimming trophy. She won five medals at the Paralympic Games.”

One well-wisher added by way of a personal tribute on social media: “What a very sad day. My sincere condolences to the whole family.

“A huge loss for our sport. She leaves an incredible legacy and most of all she leaves her joy in our memories.”

Source: Athletics -


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