Britain’s Ellie Simmonds emphatically retained her Paralympic S6 400 metres freestyle gold title yesterday in, setting a new world record in the process.
She finished in 5:19.17 , over 5 seconds quicker than the previous record set by American Victoria Arlen during the American trials in June. Arlen had been initially tod she would not be eligible to compete in the Paralypics but following an appeal this decision was overturned and she has maintained her S6 classififcation until August 2013.
Simmonds captured the hearts of the nation 4 years ago in Beijing as a 13 year old when she won the 100 and 400 metre freestyles and became one of the most recognisable sporting figures in the country and has been the ‘Ennis-style’ poster girl for the London Paralympics. She was awarded Young sports Personality of the Year that year and became became the youngest recipient of sn MBE at aged 14. years on she is now looking for another memeorable success story on home soil in 2012, also competing in the 50m, 100m and 200m events with yesterday seeing her completee the first goal in style.
Simmonds, despite trailing her American rival Arlen for much of the race pushed ahead in the final 50 metres raored being roared home by the 17,000-strong home crowd at the Aquatics Centre to smash the world record. It is her third Paralympic gold and the nineteenth major gold of her career already, a tally she hopes to add to as the week progresses.