Pressure lifts indomitable Simmonds to golden heights
ELLIE Simmonds insisted she’s thriving under the pressure as she stormed to another Paralympic gold and another world record in London yesterday.
Rebecca Adlington admitted the weight of national expectation dragged her down during the Olympics. In contrast, it seems to be driving Simmonds on to push back the boundaries of her sport even further.
She followed up her 400m freestyle win with a victory in the 200m medley, thanks to a storming final freestyle leg that saw her move from second to a clear first.
Her winning time was 3:05.39, taking a further second and a half off the world best she set in the morning heats and she finished nearly nine seconds ahead of her nearest rivals.
As dominating performances go, it was one of the most impressive witnessed in this pool in recent storied weeks.
“I knew I was going to get that medal,” said Simmonds. “I can’t believe I’ve done a personal best in every race so far. I’m obviously in the form of my life at the biggest event of my life, which is incredible. I seem to have dealt with the pressure okay and it’s pushing me to show people what I’m made of.
“I’m avoiding Twitter and Facebook, though, and trying just to focus on the job. My parents and coach are keeping me on the ground and I’m just loving my swimming at the moment. I’m trying to keep myself in a bubble to the outside world. I’m just going to go out to every race and try my best, but it’s going to be really tough.
“I know people now think I’m going to win every race but it’s going to be tough. If that’s what they want to think, they think that, but I’ve got my own targets and own aims and if I keep swimming personal bests I won’t have any complaints.”
Simmonds is now firmly established as a sporting A-lister, which means others get starstruck around her rather than vice versa – including the Prime Minister, who presented the 17-year-old with her medal. While David Cameron was not greeted with universal applause on being introduced prior to the medal ceremony, any boos were drowned out by the raucous cheers. “I’ve met him before at his house, in Number Ten. It’s great to meet him here at my place,” Simmonds grinned.
“The support I’m getting seems to get better and better and it means the world to me. It definitely motivates you and definitely gives you that buzz. To have that atmosphere, it’s just unbelievable. I don’t want it to end at all. I’m on a high all the time.”
Simmonds has now won 19 medals at major championship level in four years – and all of them are gold.
And she’s not finished this week either, with the 50m freestyle – against key rivals Mirjam de Koning-Peper and Victoria Arlen – next up on her demanding four-event schedule.
“Right now I need my privacy, I need my space, I need to focus on my races,” she added. “I’ve got my 50 free next, so I’m just focusing on that now.
“I think I’m just running on adrenaline really. I’m really on a high, but I’ve just got to concentrate because I’ve got more medal chances to come.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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