Kenny Cairns enjoyed a stellar career in the pool, winning five Paralympic golds and leaving a number of world records in his wake.

Confined to a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident when he was 16, he began swimming to improve his fitness and won every event he entered at the 1976 Stoke Mandeville Games.

After a short break to finish college, Kenny returned to the pool in 1982 and began competing in S3 events. His performances saw him selected for the 1984 Paralympic Games where he made an astonishing debut, winning four golds, one individual silver and a team silver in the relay.

While this would prove to be his greatest Paralympic performance, he won at least one medal in every Games from 1992 to 2004, finding particular success in the freestyle events. 

He clocked up a total of 13 Paralympic medals at the Games in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996), Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004) and won medals in other major swimming championships across the world. 

His tally included an incredible 16 medals in successive World Championships between 1990 and 2006 – including seven gold – as well as 21 medals in European Championships between 1991 and 2001. Along the way he set new world records for the 100m and 200m freestyle.

His final World Championships before retirement came in 2006 in South Africa, where he demonstrated he was still a force in swimming by winning four medals, including two gold.

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