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Andy Sharp says Summers-Newton’s gold was a ‘special’ and ‘emotional’ one

Northampton Swimming Club head coach Andy Sharp hailed a ‘special’ swim from Maisie Summers-Newton as she was crowned Paralympic champion in a world-record time.

Sharp, alongside Jacquie Marshall, who is now the Head of Performance Pathway for British Para-Swimming, has played an important role in the career of Summers-Newton.

He explained that it is ‘so special for a young girl to go and achieve her dream’ as he recalls the day Summers-Newton told him that she wanted to go to the Paralympics.

The British athlete is a European, world and now Paralympic champion at just 19-years-old, with a world record to add to the list.

In an interview with Channel 4 after the result, Sharp, who is also director of swimming at Northampton, said: “I wasn’t very nervous before the start, but then as soon as that gun went, the excitement built just watching her race.

“Obviously we knew that the other girls were going to be strong down that first half of the race and, historically, Maisie’s got a great breaststroke and freestyle.

“As soon as she got into the lead after that 150 metres, I just knew that no one was going to catch her and she went and did it.”

It was an emotional moment as he continued: “It’s just so special for a young girl to go and achieve her dream, and to be part of that along with Jacquie [Marshall] who’s out there with her, is just brilliant.

“It’s just quite emotional when a swimmer says to you ‘Andy, I want to go to the Paralympics’ and as coaches we do our best to help them achieve their goals, and me and Jacquie have worked so hard, and it’s happened.”

When asked what it means to Northampton Swimming Club, he said: “It’s just so special and Maisie was inspired by all of our heroes back in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

“Now she’s going to be inspiring all the athletes here today and now she’s achieved European champion, world champion and now Paralympic champion and a world record holder.

“I didn’t even see the time when it came up, I’ve just seen the time, and world record holder is amazing as well.

“It’s what it takes at this level. We saw the world record go in the heats from Mereshko, she had a great heats swim. I knew Maisie wanted to get that record back.

“She sent me a message on the way to the competition pool, she was nice and relaxed. World record holder, Paralympic champion, it does not get any better than that.”

Northampton have four athletes on the Paralympic team in Summers-Newton, Eleanor Robinson, Zara Mullooly and William Perry with more medal opportunities to come over the course of these Games.

One athlete who knows all about medals is Paralympian Ollie Hynd, who has three golds, two silvers and a bronze medal to his name after competing at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympics.

Hynd attended the watch party for Summers-Newton’s race and he added: “It was unbelievable.

“I’ve got to say I was probably more nervous for that than my own races but I know how strong of a competitor Maisie is.

“I never doubted that she could do it and she got her race plan absolutely perfect obviously coming through in the back end of the race, it was absolutely incredible.”