Record-breaker Ellie Simmonds puts her stamp on gold medal
SHE was the darling of the pool four years ago in Beijing, when at the tender age of 13 she stood cryng on the podium to receive her first Paralympic gold medal.
Fast forward four years, and Ellie Simmonds has done it once again!
The Olchfa Comprehensive School pupil became the queen of the pool on Saturday evening as she dramatically defended her title by smashing the world record in a pulsating, nail-biting race.
Despite trailing for much of the tussle, Ellie, 17, powered home in the final 50 metres, beating the previous world record set by American Victoria Arlen by an incredible five seconds.
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Her gold medal victory in the 400m freestyle not only had the Aquatics Centre in raptures but she has also been the toast of the city since her win.
Father Tim Williams, who is chairman of governors at Olchfa, said it was a proud moment for the school, Swansea and British sport.
He said: “We are all proud of Ellie. Her win is wonderful for sport in general and she is an inspiration to us all. We are all very proud of her at Olchfa. She is a great ambassador for our school and shows that, with determination, you can achieve anything.
“I was on the edge of my seat watching her swim. I was so nervous for her. To come back in the way she did was truly amazing. I was shouting and screaming at the television and I can’t wait for the rest of her races.”
Father Williams said the school would be holding celebrations to mark Ellie’s record-breaking win.
“When she came back from Beijing we marked her success and I am sure there will be more celebrations on the way. With the pupils starting back this week I am sure there will be a lot of excitement around the school.”
Ellie, who has achondroplasia, a short limbed dwarfism condition, lives during the week with her mother Val in Swansea’s Maritime Quarter — a choice she so she can be near her Welsh coach Billy Pye and the 50metre pool at Wales National Pool in Sketty Lane.
Her parents have hailed their daughter’s London 2012 gold medal win as the “most incredible” achievement of her already glittering career.
Dad Steve said: “That was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen her do. The 400metre world record has got Eleanor Simmonds’s name written all over it and she wanted it back. It was the top of her Christmas list and she’s got it.”
The Royal Mail will be issuing a commemorative Ellie Simmonds stamp which will be on sale from tomorrow.
Ellie’s victory has also become a talking point on social networking site Twitter.
Swansea councillor Pearleen Sangha tweeted: “Way to go Ellie! You’ve made Swansea Proud!”
Swansea City Centre congratulated “Our star Ellie Simmonds” on the site and another well wisher added: “You have done the whole of Wales, Great Britain and Olchfa proud, another gold medal, we were all screaming for you. Well done!”
Wales’s First Minister Carwyn Jones said Ellie was held in the highest regard in the principality.
He said: “To win gold at two games is quite an achievement but to do this by the age of 17 is incredible.”