Young people from a club for swimmers with disabilities in Rio de Janeiro meet their hero Daniel Dias.

Daniel Dias

Para swimmer Daniel Dias is Brazil’s most successful athlete in the last decade. In 2016 he was awarded the “Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability”.


Daniel, who was born with deformities in his upper and lower limbs, did not learn to swim until he was 16 years old. Within just two months, he had mastered all four strokes. Two years later he entered his first international competition – the IPC Swimming World Championships in Durban, South Africa – where he won three gold and two silver medals.

Daniel comes from Campinas, north of São Paulo, and has celebrated more successes than any other Brazilian athlete in the last decade. Having garnered an incredible 14 medals at recent Paralympic Games (from Beijing 2008 through to Rio 2016), his achievements as a Paralympic athlete are potentially record-breaking. At the 2008 Beijing Games alone, he won nine medals – four of which were gold. This winning streak continued at the IPC World Championships in 2010 in Eindhoven, where he won eight gold medals and one silver medal.

At London in 2012, Daniel won a further six titles – all in world record time. In total, he is the proud holder of 30 world titles.

At the Parapan American Games in Lima this year, he gained his thirtieth Parapan American title.

“I really hope that my success will encourage young people with disabilities to take up swimming.”

Daniel Dias, swimmer and Ottobock ambassador

Ottobock Ambassador Daniel Dias is Brazil's best Paralympic ever.
Ottobock ambassador Daniel Dias is Brazil’s best Paralympic athlete of all time.

A role model for the next generation

But Daniel hasn’t finished yet. Before the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, he stepped forwards as an ambassador for Brazil. Not only does he want the whole world to hear about the Paralympic Games; he also wants to inspire the next generation of Paralympic athletes.

“Inspiring people is a priceless privilege. Breaking down barriers, motivating people – including people with disabilities – and helping young athletes are all difficult tasks, but I find them immensely rewarding.”

In 2009, 2013 and 2016, Daniel was awarded the Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability for his impressive achievements in the pool and for his commitment to helping young people with disabilities.

Victories and achievements

Paralympic Games     IPC Swimming World Championships
Rio 2016 London 2012 Beijing 2008  
  • Gold in 50 m, 100 m and 200 m freestyle

  • Gold in 50 m backstroke

  • Silver in 100 m breaststroke

  • Silver in 4 x 50 m freestyle

  • Silver in 4 x 1,000 m freestyle

  • Bronze in 50 m butterfly

  • Bronze in 4 x 1,000 m medley relay
  • Gold in 50 m, 100 m and 200 m freestyle
  • Gold in 50 m backstroke
  • Gold in 50 m butterfly
  • Gold in 100 m breaststroke
  • Gold in 100 m and 200 m freestyle
  • Gold in 50 m backstroke
  • Gold in 200 m medley
  • Durban 2006: 3 x gold, 2 x silver
  • Eindhoven 2010: 8 x gold, 1 x silver
  • Montreal 2013: 6 x gold, 2 x silver

Key facts

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Year of birth: 1988
  • Sport: swimming
  • Classification: S5, SB4 and SM5
  • Coach: Marcos Rojo Prado
  • Club: Association for Disabled Sports, São Paulo
  • Device: for sports: a waterproof 3R80 knee and Triton prosthetic foot for swimming. In daily life: Genium and Triton prosthetic feet

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