Women's Sports: Ellie Simmonds prepares to win a medal at the IPC World Swimming Championships

British Para-Swimming International Meet 2019 - Day Two

Olympic champion Ellie Simmonds has returned to the Aquatic centre for the IPC World Para Swimming Championships.

"Having a major competition at my training base in the year leading up to Tokyo is going to be an amazing time for me. I do have so many fond memories of 2012," said Ellie.

The Paralympic champion began her journey at the age of 13, winning two gold medals for Great Britain at the Beijing Olympics. Simmonds has 27 gold medals in total but with her success came pressure. 

Being the face of parasports made her feel like swimming consumed her, that swimming "was a life-or-death situation." Following Rio 2016 she decided to take a break from the sport and travel.

Many female athletes such as Anyika Onuora, Perri Shakes-Drayton and Bianca Williams, reach a point in their career where they decide to take a break because of how demanding their sport is.

Starting as a young athlete also has its pressures. In 2018 British snowboarder and Olympic Bronze medalist, Ellie Soutter committed suicide after missing a flight to go training with Great Britain. Her father believes her suicide was down the pressure she faced as a young athlete competing at an elite level.

UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport have since started a programme supporting athletes and promoting positive mental health.

Ellie Simmonds says travelling gave her the freedom to experience life as a 21-year-old without the rigid structure of training as an athlete.

Now, after her break, Ellie sees swimming with a different mindset, she comes back more refreshed and less anxious about competing. 

Olympics & Paralympics Team GB - Rio 2016 Victory Parade

“After taking a year out after Rio, my main aim was to get back on the team for Tokyo so as always, I’m going to go out there and give everything I’ve got.”

The IPC World Para Swimming Championships has started in London and will end on the 15th of September. Keep up to date with all the competition on Channel 4 parasports website or watch it on More 4.

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