2016 Paralympic Games

Standing tall with world mark

Ellie Simmonds competing in the women's 200m individual medley SM6 final. She set a world-record time of 2min 59.81sec to retain her Paralympic title.
Ellie Simmonds competing in the women's 200m individual medley SM6 final. She set a world-record time of 2min 59.81sec to retain her Paralympic title. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Simmonds cracks 3min barrier as she earns her fifth career Paralympic gold

RIO DE JANEIRO • On a night of three golds in the pool for Britain, Ellie Simmonds stole the show by becoming the first SM6 swimmer to race below three minutes in the 200m individual medley.

After an F42 shot put gold for Aled Davies during Monday's morning session of athletics, Simmonds followed Sascha Kindred's lead by shattering the world record in the Aquatics Centre.

The 21-year-old, who suffers from achondroplasia dwarfism - a form of short-limbed dwarfism, won her fifth Paralympic gold .

At the halfway mark, after the butterfly and backstroke legs, Simmonds turned in fourth place. But by the end of the breaststroke leg, she had surged into the lead.

The final 50m was then a formality as, in her favoured freestyle leg, she pulled quickly away from the rest of the field, finishing in 2min 59.81sec. It was a time of huge personal significance.

  • 3min

  • Ellie Simmonds became the first to break the three-minute mark in the SM6 category en route to winning her fifth Paralympic gold medal.

"I'm so happy that I could finally go below three minutes," she said. "I've been so close and I just wanted to be the first.

"It was a secret target that I set myself that I've not told anyone, not even my coach or family. I'm so chuffed."

After coping so admirably with the responsibility of being one of the faces of the London Paralympics in 2012, Simmonds felt the pressure once again at the Rio Aquatics Centre .

"I was so nervous before that race, I thought I was going to be sick. I don't know what to feel but I'm so, so happy," she said.

Having finished sixth on Saturday in her first event, the 50m freestyle, not her strongest distance, Simmonds now has three more events to add to her first gold in Rio.

She took home two golds from each of her first two Games in Beijing and London.

This morning (Singapore time), she races in the S6 400m freestyle, dubbed "Ellie Clasico", an event she won in both 2008 and 2012. She will come up against Ellie Robinson, her 15-year-old team-mate and emerging rival.

Robinson, who has the same condition as Simmonds, won the S6 50m butterfly gold last week. She was inspired to take up swimming after watching Simmonds in London.

A memorable day for Britain ended with Susannah Rodgers claiming the team's sixth swimming gold by winning the S7 50m butterfly.

Kindred, who won an appeal against his disqualification from his heat for a technical infringement, had triumphed in the SM6 200m individual medley final.

Appearing in his fourth and final Paralympic Games, he bowed out in style. A time of 2min 38.47sec secured a seventh gold medal for the 38-year-old whose cerebral palsy affects the right side of his body.

After five days of competition, British athletes have topped the podium 28 times and are second behind China in the standings.

THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Standing tall with world mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe