Four years ago as Ellie Simmonds was preparing for her first Paralympics final, she turned to her coach, Billy Pye, and burst into tears. The 13-year-old, overcome with nerves, told him she did not want to race. Last night the nerves were there again, gnawing at her as she waited in the Aquatics Centre, but this time there were no tears, only a relentless swim in the 200m individual medley that hunted down the pacesetters and secured her second gold of these Games, the fourth of her career.
The first in London had arrived on Saturday when, after touching to claim first place, she ducked her face into the water to hide the tears that quickly followed. This was different, the raw emotion kept in check but not at a cost to her performance. She accelerated down the final length not only to win by 9sec from Germany's Verena Schott but also to claim yet another world record in this pool.
Five times she has climbed on to the blocks and four times she has left the water with a world record – and she is back in the pool this morning, in the 50m freestyle heats. She is aiming for four golds, having learnt to channel those pre-race nerves. "It's always good to have my emotions going because that's what gets me going," she said Simmonds. "I like to be nervous – that's what gets my adrenalin going. On Saturday it was 50-50 whether I was going to [win] so when I touched was quite emotional. It was such a tough race. I show my emotions in different ways, tonight I'm just so excited."
Yesterday morning in the 200m IM heats she broke the world record – to her surprise, as her target had "only" been the Games mark – and there was never much doubt who would top the podium last night. There she was presented with her medal by David Cameron, the Prime Minister attracting the first boos heard in the Aquatics Centre.
Simmonds was joined by fellow Briton Natalie Jones, a distant bronze winner. "As a competitor she's second to none," said Jones, who was watched by her husband Rik Waddon, a cycling silver medallist the previous day. "She's flippin' hard, really hard. It's great for the Paralympics and fantastic for us swimmers. The crowd has been phenomenal all week – because of her."
There was a silver for Sascha Kindred in the SM6 200m IM. The Briton was left trailing by a remarkable swim from China's Xu Qing, who not only took 7sec off his heat time but also stripped Kindred of his world record. Susie Rodgers took bronze in the S7 100m freestyle.Reuse content