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Glorious gold for Simmonds on day three

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1st September 2012

Ellie Simmonds smashed the world record in an unforgettable S6 400m Freestyle final to claim ParalympicsGB’s second swimming gold of London 2012.

Competing in her first final of the Games, the 17-year old world champion was defending one of her two Paralympic titles and had qualified fastest with a European record in the morning heats.

I literally had no energy left - that was one of the toughest race of my life so far.

USA’s world record holder Victoria Arlen took the race out with the Brit in tow and it soon became clear it would be a two-horse race with both swimmers way under world record pace.

Arlen led for the first 350m but Simmonds was fired on by a raucous home crowd and edged past her rival in the final length, touching in 5:19.17 with the American home in 5:20.18.

The old world marker of 5:24.46 was obliterated by both swimmers and Simmonds admitted she was expecting the race to come down to the wire.

"I knew it was going to be so tough leading in to it," said Simmonds. "I knew Victoria is on form so I knew I would have to give it absolutely everything I've got.

"That last 50m hurt like you wouldn't believe but I was so pleased to touch with no regrets. I literally had no energy left - that was one of the toughest race of my life so far.

"I can't wait to see my coach now and my family and friends. I'm so excited and so happy right now."

Simmonds’ ParalympicsGB teammate Natalie Jones was also competing in her first final of London 2012 and improved on her heat time to finish seventh in 6:02.02.

Claire Cashmore claimed the best Paralympic medal of her career to date as she clinched silver in the SB8 100m Breaststroke.

I'm one of those people who is never quite satisfied but tonight I can be satisfied with that.

After qualifying fastest for the final, the world silver medallist was just 0.02 shy of her British record as she clocked a season’s best 1:20.39 to touch second behind Russia’s defending champion Olesya Vladykina (1:17.17 WR).

Cashmore has now medalled at three consecutive Paralympics, having won two bronzes on her debut in 2004 as well as 100m Breaststroke bronze in Beijing four years ago.

"I felt really confident coming in to these Games," said Cashmore. "I'm probably in the best shape I've ever been. I've done such hard training this year.

"It didn't quite pay off to how I expected but to come away with a silver medal is better than Beijing and Athens so I've got to be happy with it.

"I'm one of those people who is never quite satisfied but tonight I can be satisfied with that."

Matthew Whorwood retained his SB6 400m Freestyle bronze medal with a season’s best performance in the final in London.

I came here looking to get on to the podium and I've achieved it with my first race so I'm absolutely delighted.

The world silver medallist was in clear water for the majority of the race with Ireland’s Darragh McDonald powering clear to win gold in 4:55.56 ahead of Sweden’s defending champion Andreas Olsson in 5:03.44.

But Whorwood stuck to his pace and held on to third position, clocking the second fastest time of his career to touch in 5:11.59.

"I came here looking to get on to the podium and I've achieved it with my first race so I'm absolutely delighted," said Whorwood.

"It would have been nice to go one or two up the medal tally after four years but I can't complain.

"The S6 class is always a hard field so to come away with a bronze is great."

Anthony Stephens clocked a season's best to finish fourth in the S5 200m Freestyle final.

Competing at his third Paralympic Games, the Brit couldn't quite match the speed of the podium finishers but held off Ireland's fast-finishing James Scully to come home in 2:49.83.

Sascha Kindred and Thomas Young narrowly missed out on their first medals of the Games as they finished fourth and fifth respectively in the SB7 100m Breaststroke final.

Defending champion from the past three Games, Kindred improved on his heat time to touch in 1:23.53 while Young clocked a personal best 1:23.69.

And while both swimmers couldn't quite claw back Australia's bronze medallist Matthew Levy (1:22.62), Kindred insisted he couldn't have done anything more to retain his title.

"I know I put 100 per cent into that swim and I can't do more than that," said Kindred.

"I've got a lot of respect for those guys who made the podium - they stepped up and performed better on the day.

"But I've just got to move on and concentrate on the rest of my races."

James Crisp set his second personal best of the day to finish sixth in the SB8 100m Breaststroke final.

The 29-year old, who won S9 100m Backstroke silver on day two, came home in 1:15.71 while British teammate Sam Hynd was seventh in a season’s best 1:16.64.

Gemma Almond improved on her heat swim to finish eighth in her second final of her debut Games.

Swimming from an outside lane, the 19-year old clocked 1:13.24 in the final – a time only bettered by her British record earlier in the season.

Finally, Rhiannon Henry finished seventh in the S13 50m Freestyle final, touching in 29.41 in her first final of the Games.

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