Two days, two gold medals, two world records. Ellie Simmonds is not your average teenager. This young woman has achieved more in a week than many people will in their lifetime. At only 17 she is the face of ParalympicsGB and smiles from numerous billboards all over the country.
After her amazing gold medal win at the last Games in Beijing, pressure was on Ellie to repeat her success.With her tearful joy after her amazing win at just 13, she touched the hearts of the British public.
Well aware of the high expectations placed on the ParalympicsGB swmming squad and especially on herself, at the London 2012 Games, she still remained calm and focused. Ellie knows what she wants and she has the self-belief to achieve it: "Personally I believed I was going to get that gold medal."
After winning gold and smashing a new world record in the first week of the Paralmpics, she was overwhelmed by the crowd’s support and the amazing athmosphere in the Aquatics Center: "I think I'm just running on adrenaline really. I'm really on a high, but I've just got to focus on my races." Ellie does not let the expectations or her fellow competitors unsettle her: "I have my own race that I race. I control myself.“The swimming star, who is the youngest person to ever receive an MBE, recognizes the incredible support she gets and is thrilled by her performance at the Games: "It's great to be in form in the biggest race of my life." Although she is still an A-level student dealing with the difficulties of everyday life, Ellie appears to be unstoppable in the pool. She manages to juggle the pressures of being a teenager and a Paralympic swimmer very well and believes that her parents have a huge role to play in that: "My parents are great at keeping me on the ground and supporting me, as well as my coach."
Her great backup and support group stop Simonds from being intimidated by the pressure and expectations: "I just focus on myself. I try to keep myself in a bubble to the outside world. To be competing in a home Games and to be competing in a crowd that is from my country I think is amazing."
Simmonds is not the only inspiring competitor at this year's Games. Team mate Jonathan Fox is another young British talent. The 21-year-old fished the first gold medal out of the pool for ParalympicsGB when he won the S7 100m backstroke. After his debut in the Beijing Games, where he won silver, he is delighted to be on the squad competing in London and thinks the atmosphere at the Games is „ecstactic.“
Four-time Paralympian Sascha Kindred OBE, who has been competing for ParalympicsGB since the Atlanta Games is another star in the swimming squad. The 34-year-old has been swimming for almost 20 years and held the world record in the SM6 200m individual medley. Although he is one of ParalympicsGBs most successful swimmers with numerous medals to his name, he is not as well known as fellow swimmer Ellie. A gold medal on home soil might have changed his fate. But although he managed to improve his personal best by almost half a second at these Games, it was only enough for silver. For the first time in this century, gold in the men’s 200m individual medley didn’t go to ParalympicsGB but China’s amazing Xu Qing.The other half of swimming’s ’golden couple’, as Sascha and Nyree Kindred are called, has also added to the family’s medal collection. Nyree won silver in the women’s S6 100m backstroke.