London 2012 Paralympics: Simmonds delighted with bronze in her ‘fourth event’
THE GOLDEN hat-trick might be on hold for now but Ellie Simmonds insisted her third London 2012 medal was up there with her best Paralympic achievements yet.
To the layman, Simmonds’ fifth Paralympic medal last night – a bronze – was a failure. The first time the 17-year-old has ever finished off the top step of the podium at a Games since bursting onto the scene as a 13-year-old double champion in 2008.
However, the fact that the 50m freestyle is something of an afterthought – “my fourth event” – reflected yet another mammoth achievement for a girl who regularly makes the seemingly impossible look mundane.
Simmonds was ranked fourth heading into the final after a morning heat, following which she moaned of tiredness, despite having a royal cheerleader in the shape of Prince Harry.
However, as is the lot of the nation’s golden girl, Simmonds was expected to get herself up for the final and duly did so in style.
That it was a bronze was never going to have been a setback, especially with the 100m – one of her Beijing titles – still to come later this week.
Simmonds is a distance swimmer by trade, someone who – as her London evidence has so aptly shown – comes on strong in the latter half of races rather than revelling in the splash and dash that is the 50m. After taking the bronze she said: “That is a massive surprise.
“This is my fourth event and I was going into the final fourth so I didn’t expect that.
“I was hoping to go for a personal best and see what happened and so to get a bronze, I will definitely take that. To be on the medal podium again ahead of the 100m later this week is a great sign.”
There was a golden moment for the home crowd as Heather Frederiksen defended her
title in the S8 100 metres backstroke.
Stephanie Millward took silver in the S9 400m freestyle, with bronzes for Simmonds, Oliver Hynd in the S8 100m backstroke and Matt Walker in the S7 50m freestyle taking the swim team’s total to 25 so far.
Frederiksen said: “This is absolutely unreal. Beijing was fantastic but this means so much more. Winning there was fantastic and in my first Paralympic Games and I did absolutely unbelievably well there but to be able to come here and do it in front of my home crowd and for them to be willing me along was fantastic.”
Between Beijing and now, the City of Salford swimmer was given a backdated six-month drug ban after the concentration of salbutamol, which she had permission to take for an asthma condition, was ruled too high to be medically justified.
However, she said last night: “I can come into these Games with an absolute clear conscience.
“At the end of the day that doping ban was for my salbutamol inhaler and it was something I had to do.
“I am sorry but I ask the question – if your life was at risk from an asthma attack what would you do?”
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