Ellie Simmonds – going for gold

With a string of world records and two Paralympic golds under her belt already, Ellie Simmonds is already a Games veteran – at the age of 17! Super swimmer Ellie, who has a form of dwarfism call Achondroplasia, is among the country’s biggest hopes for golden glory in London. Enable caught up with the swimming superstar ahead of the Games…

The Games are fast approaching – how are you feeling about it all?

Excited, but getting nervous! I can’t believe how quickly it’s coming around now.

What does it feel like knowing you’ll be competing in such a huge event in your home country?

It makes me feel very proud and lucky. Not many athletes get this once in a life time opportunity.

Have you got any rituals or superstitions before you head out to the pool to compete?

Billy, my coach, always walks to the call up room with me and we have our final chat. Once I am at the start, I check my goggles lots and wipe the starting block, so I’m told!

What made you decide to take up swimming?

I really enjoy it and love competitions, and I discovered I had a talent for it. I like that it keeps me busy and fit and I have lots of friends from swimming too.

What does your training involve?

I train nine times a week for two hours a session in the pool and also do two hours of gym time.

How do you balance that with school?

I’m studying two subjects to A level so I only attend part time. This gives me time away from swimming with my school friends but doesn’t put as much time pressure on to fit in course work and homework. It’s worked very well.

What are your hopes for London?

I want to go there and swim the best I have ever swum – and hope that that might be the best in the world.

In 2009, you became the youngest person ever to be awarded an MBE at just 14 – how did that feel?

It was a very special moment, I am very proud of it. Going to Buckingham Palace and meeting the Queen was an amazing day.

What can you see yourself doing when your sporting career is over?

I’m not sure yet, I keep changing my mind! I’ll continue with my education at the moment and wait and see.

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