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Tokyo 2020: Simmonds almost quit swimming

Ellie simmonds giving the thumbs up
Ellie simmonds giving the thumbs up Image credit:

Ellie Simmonds has revealed she almost steeped down from competing in the Paralympics after her experience at Rio 2016.

The 26-year-old, who was born with achondroplasia, told Sky Sports: "I hated Rio and I hated everything about it.”

The games were investigated in 2017 after 13 swimmers reporting a senior coach who used "abusive and derogatory language" towards the athletes which had a severe impact on Simmonds.

Leading up to Rio Ellie told her parents she wanted to quit swimming, but she persevered going on to win gold and bronze medals at the games.

Despite the success in 2016 she can’t bring herself to watch the footage.

Ellie told The Guardian: "I don't watch my Rio races back.

"I'll look at my London 2012 races a lot. But not Rio.

"It was the staff. There were some not very nice people in the team."

Taking a break from the pool Simmonds travelled abroad discovering new cultures and meeting other people with disabilities.

"In China they don't mind getting their cameras out, but I try to go with the flow," she told The Times.

"In countries where there is not so much disability visible on the streets, they want to know who you are and what you are doing."

Ellie was born on 11 November 1994, but moved to Swansea at the age of 11 so she could train with the GB team.

When she was 12 Simmonds had surgery to insert four metal plates to straighten her legs, but she says she has “never been bullied” because of her disability.

Ellie competed for the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 becoming the second youngest British Paralympian to win a medal at the age of 13.

At London 2012 Ellie won two golds in the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley, a silver in the 100m freestyle and a bronze medal in the 50m freestyle, as well as breaking two world records.

Despite the bullying training for Rio 2016 she won a gold medal in the individual medley title and bronze in 400m freestyle.

Next on the agenda for Ellie was preparing for Rio, but when the games were postponed in 2020 because of Covid-19 she was devastated.

"When I found out the news that the Games had been postponed until next year I cried," she told Sky Sports News.

"The Games are every four years and when you train in January, you're in full focus, you're ready to compete. When it goes like that, it's tough."

Addressing the fact she is growing older in a career which demands physical agility Ellie added: "As an older woman now, I feel the pressure more, I feel all those different aspects, I'm more aware of that," she said.

"Whereas as a 13-year-old, as a 17-year-old, you just do swimming, you're just doing it as sport where you don't really think of all the outside bits.

"I'm more aware of those types of challenges now and I work with the psychologist really well.

"For me, these Games are just about going out there, racing, enjoying it, doing the best I can and just being happy and soaking it all in."

Ellie Simmonds spent lockdown re-reading Harry Potter books and watching Peaky Blinders and Luther.