'Ellie Simmonds was inspirational. Now it's my turn to win gold'

Team GB's swimmers have high hopes of success in London

Ellie Simmonds is still only 17, but she is already a veteran when it comes to winning gold medals. Representing Team GB in Beijing four years ago, as the youngest team member, she eventually came home with two Paralympic swimming golds and a place in the hearts of the nation's sports fans.

She also inspired Amy Marren, who celebrated her 14th birthday only a week ago, to take up the sport at the age of 10. Now Amy has been given the chance to swim alongside her heroine in London.

Amy, who was born without a right hand, told reporters at a press event in Manchester: "I only got into swimming when I watched Ellie winning a double gold in Beijing. I turned around to my mum and said, 'That's what I want to do'.

"I did not even expect to qualify to tell the truth. I am still a little starstruck around Ellie and feel as inspired by her as I was when I was cheering her on in Beijing."

The road to qualifying had been hard, she added. "My family has been amazing. My 10-year-old sister has had to miss so many parties through coming to watch me... She swims as well and is going to be so much faster than me when she's older. She also wants to take it as far as she can."

All of the Team GB swimmers The Independent spoke to yesterday had stories to tell. Third-time Paralympian Claire Cashmore revealed how a childhood snub while her family was living in Dubai had led to her becoming "a water baby".

She said: "I moved to Dubai when I was five. Before that I was really nervous of swimming. But when I was nine another little girl told me I couldn't swim – and I was determined to prove her wrong.

"It is important people are exposed to someone with a disability and realise it's normal, because there are so many opportunities for disabled people out there."

She said she was even more thrilled to be competing in front of a home crowd. "When I was in Beijing hearing the Chinese cheer, I thought, 'This would be great if it was in London'. So now it is like a dream come true. What drives me is that feeling of standing on the podium, wearing the GB tracksuit and seeing that flag rising.

"I have been dreaming of it for I don't know how many years and it is going to be so exciting – although my lifetime goal is still to be a Blue Peter presenter."

Although the Paralympians were thrilled with Team GB's achievements in the Olympics, for Ellie Simmonds the most important part of London 2012 is still to come. "I just can't wait to walk out with all the crowd behind me. I remember when the Chinese athletes got a massive roar it gave me a buzz as if they were shouting to me.

"To have the experience of that, to know what it's like, and be up for it is definitely going to give me a bit of an advantage."

Suggested Topics
News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits