Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds on life after London 2012
It's almost a year since we watched Ellie Simmonds prowl across the Olympic Aquatics Centre, her tough, compact body ready to fire from the blocks like an unstoppable bullet.
Dressed for battle in swimsuit, hat and goggles, she cut an inspiring figure; that powerful presence is just as manifest as she strides into a sports centre in Birmingham in tracksuit and trainers. Suddenly the bored-looking girls at the
the desk and workmen fixing lights become animated, waving and Smiling at her, because at just 4 ft 1 in, she's unmistakable.
This, after all, is the four-time Paralympic champion, who had won 10 world titles, five
European titles and broken eight world records before she turned 18 last November. "The Paralympics were a good showcase," says Simmonds, who doesn't like the term 'disabled"; she prefers to say she's the "same as anyone else, only smaller. In the short term, her sights are set firmly on the World Championships, then on Rio in
2016. In the longer term, she has various plans, ranging from higher education to becoming a baker, television presenter or publicist.
Simmonds had been swimming for her local club and competing in disability events when British Swimming invited her to join the Talent Programme aged nine. While it's easy to imagine that behind every successful child athlete there
must be pushy parents, anyone looking for that in her parents will be disappointed. The drive to set world records and win gold medals comes from Simmonds.
Simmonds life outside swimming is remarkably normal. "My friends mean a lot. I like going to the Bullring or the cinema. I'm a shopaholic, and I love buying handbags. And I love baking." She also likes the idea of marriage and children
"one day”, but that's way off in the future. "For now I just want to be me.“
Simmonds hopes her example might inspire other children. Before last summer she wrote an autobiography aimed at children, "because when I was a kid I wanted to know about sportspeople, but I wanted it in a book I could understand. I hope it might encourage other people to find their talent."
(adapted from: Stroud, Clover: "Paralympics swimmer Ellie Simmonds on life after London 2012". The Telegraph