Before her first race in the London 2012 Paralympics, Ellie Simmonds was already a star, having won two gold medals at the age of 14 in Beijing. Following another year of success, we caught up with her to find out what keeps her motivated and why she thinks Spa for All is so important!
How exciting was the Paralympics?
Reeeeeaaaaaally exciting! I was counting down the days! It was also scary, there was a lot of pressure, but mostly it was just exciting.
You had already won two Olympic Gold medals … what more did you want to achieve this year?
I wasn’t putting targets on myself, I just wanted to go and enjoy it and do the best I could do on the day – have fun and enjoy the experience.
Did you feel like the pressure was off a little bit because you had already achieved so much, or did that just add to the expectation?
Getting two gold medals was so unexpected at Beijing, so this time people expected it from me, so I just tried to relax. I had the best experience in Beijing and I wanted to have that in London as well – just to enjoy it!
What made you want to start swimming?
My mum took me at an early age and got me in the water. I enjoyed it and wanted to progress, and when I was eight I started being selected for my club. It’s great socially and for fitness, but I enjoy it mostly for the friends … plus I am very competitive, I enjoy racing!
Do you find that swimming has helped you to manage your disability?
I think it helps everybody, not just me. It helps you to move and lots of physios use it to rehabilitate people with injuries. For me though it helps strengthen my muscles and I find the water very relaxing.
What motivates you?
The competitiveness and the feeling of being on that podium, and all the experiences that I get to have – going to BBC Sports Personality, travelling, the games this year – it’s so exciting!
We have been busy launching Spa for All in the last two weeks, to make spa breaks more accessible – what do you think of the idea?
Everybody has the right to go to places, and it’s a big thing to go to a spa – everyone needs time to relax, and Spabreaks.com provides that opportunity for everyone which is great!
Have you ever been put off doing something as a result of your own disability?
No, not really. I am very competitive and I have the nature where if something is stopping me, I will find a way. I will never let anything put me off!
How important is relaxing to you, and how do you relax?
It’s very important – I am on the go all the time. I train in nine sessions for 18 hours a week in the pool and I have school as well, so weekends are really special; I pretty much just chill out on the sofa and I am quite a sleeper!
What do you like most about going to a spa?
I love massages and being chilled out, I have sports massages most of the time, but spas are a brilliant way to relax – it’s amazing!
Is there a treatment you would like to try?
I would love a head massage – my auntie had one recently and she said it was wonderful … just talking about it makes me want to try one!
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