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Ellie Simmonds ready to 'race her heart out' at Tokyo Paralympic Games

Paralympic champion Ellie Simmons is preparing to ‘race her heart out’ at the upcoming Tokyo Paralympic Games.

The 26-year-old will be heading to her fourth Games as defending champion in the 200m Individual Medley.

In a recent interview series by C4, Simmonds sat down with Michael Johnson to discuss her Paralympic success so far, her hopes for Tokyo and how she got into the sport in the first place.

As a youngster, her parents encouraged her into many different sports and activities including dance and ballet classes.

However, it wasn’t until Ellie began swimming that her love for a sport was discovered.

“I’m from a family of five so I’ve got four older siblings”, she said. “I remember sitting on the sidelines watching them swim and just thinking ‘I want to do what my sister is doing, I want to learn how to swim’.

“So, my mum took me to the learn to swim. It’s a sport that, even as a kid, you get goals and you get targets.

“You get your 10m badge, you get your 100m badge and I was always that child that wanted to be so competitive and get those badges as soon as possible.”

Simmonds reminisced as she remembered watching the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece as an eight-year-old.

“For me, the proper turning point was watching Athens 2004. I was eight years old, sitting on that sofa watching the Olympics and watching the Paralympics.

“At that time, I was watching a lady called Nyree Lewis and she got the gold medal and I remember asking my mum ‘how old do you have to be to go to a Paralympics?’ and she said ‘any age’.

“As a kid, I thought, I want to go to a Paralympics and I want to win a gold medal. I don’t know how I’m going to get there but I’m going to go.”

‘I’m passionate about everything’

When asked what differentiates her as an athlete, Simmonds said that ‘being a stickler for everything’ is a strength that she has learned to hone and master.

“I think it’s being a stickler for everything. I look at everything in so much detail, not just my swimming, not just my stroke but also the sleep that I have, the time that I wake up, the food that I eat – I’m passionate about everything.

“As soon as I walk into that pool, I want to do it all perfectly.”

After overcoming the disappointment of hearing about the postponement of the Tokyo Paralympic and Olympic Games, Simmonds was quick to turn her focus to 2021.

“It was January 1st, 2021 and I thought ‘it’s Paralympic year, we need to do everything we can so that when it’s the Paralympics and I’m at that competition pool in Tokyo – I’ve got no regrets, I’ve done everything right.

“I’ve done everything to the best of my ability so I can stand up there, behind that block and know that I’ve done everything I can so that I can go out there and race my heart out.

Simmonds is a five-time gold medallist and has been competing at the highest level of international sport since her first Paralympic win at age 13.

‘It’s about you and that lane’

Thirteen years on, she said that the achievement of going to a fourth Games is ‘amazing’, irrespective of results in Tokyo.

“It’ll be very tough to get a gold medal but you never know. You’re about to go and compete against seven other people you can’t control – it’s about you and that lane.

“Whatever the outcome is, just to go to a fourth games would be amazing.”

Her love for racing has never waivered and is something that feeds her passion for the sport.

“I love racing,” she said. “When you come to the competition day, those nerves that you feel beforehand when you feel physically sick, it’s crazy adrenaline that you feel.

“But when you stand on the block and you hear that beep, you’re in your element.

“For me, that’s what I love, it’s the competition. I worry if I’m not nervous in a sense. It’s because I’m passionate, it’s because I want it.”