'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
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
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

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003