Inspirational Ellie Robinson details emotional ‘story of triumph ... not defeat’

An emotional Ellie Robinson said her fifth-place finish in the Paralympics was ‘a story of triumph, not defeat’ – as a debilitating hip problem almost prevented her from taking part in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Robinson marked her 20th birthday with arguably the strongest, most determined swim of her career in the S6 50m Butterfly as she detailed the battles she had faced in the past year.

The defending Paralympic champion was only 0.25 seconds outside a podium place as she clocked 37.08.

But being in the final was a remarkable achievement in itself as she has been in constant pain due to Perthes disease in her right hip – a condition she was diagnosed with in 2012.

A tearful Robinson said: “I have spoken to physios in the past year and they said said they had no idea how I’ve even carried on swimming.

“They don’t know how I managed to go to Rio, how I managed to get to Tokyo. 

“Last year, I had so many problems in my hip – it really started to rear its ugly head.

“A Perthes hip, an arthritic hip, has got a finite amount of time left and, unfortunately for me, I ran out of time this year,

“Had the Games been last year, it would have been a completely different story but I think with lockdown and the extra year and the adaptation with training it properly took its toll on my hip and I just ran out of time.

“I had two failed hip injections, I had different medications but nothing worked – nothing eased the pain.

“I didn’t swim a length of butterfly from November to May in training. My first length of fly was at the European Championships in Maderia so I honestly thought I would be more upset than this but to be honest I came here and made the final and I’m still in the top five. 

“In the past year, people were saying it’s okay to finish. I was in a really, really low point in my life – I was struggling so much.

“I was seeing a psychiatrist, I was on medication. It’s been one of the hardest years of my life.

So proud of myself

“People have been saying ‘it’s okay to finish. It’s fine, you don’t have to carry on’.  I said I’m not finishing this way – it’s not going to end this way.

“Even though I didn’t medal, I can say I ended on my own terms – I went out the way I wanted to.

“If I had to crawl to the blocks on my hands and knees, I would do it. 

“I’m just so proud of myself. I have been in agony this whole year – this is a story of triumph, this is not a story of defeat.

“I’m so proud of myself for getting this far. This is just showing people that what threatens to weaken you will not conquer you – you will overcome it and you will end on your own terms. You are in control all the time.

“I’m in control of when I finish. I’m not being told when I finish and I went out there and I proved to myself I can overcome challenge and I’m so glad I did.”

Robinson was quick to praise her parents for their support and the team pf physios and doctors who had helped her take part on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

She said: “I want to thank my parents as they have had such a hard run for the past year 

“I’ve put them through so much I just want to say thanks so much for the support they have given me.

“All the physios, all the doctors, everyone that has been invested in this. Even though I can’t come away with a medal, I have still succeeded.

“After two failed hip injections wouldn’t take the pain away, I wasn’t sure I was even on the team at this point, and I was being asked to go to European Championships.

“I went on a drive with my dad and drove past the pool I got talent spotted in 2012. The deterioration I recognised in myself from that point until now was so overwhelming I was in tears.

“But now I look back and I’m so proud of how strong I was. There may be deterioration in my hip and I may have physically deteriorated but, my gosh, mentally I’m stronger than ever before and I’m so proud of where I’ve come.”

Main picture: ParalympicsGB