Paralympics 2012: Ellie Simmonds' parents talk of 'incredible' win

Ellie Simmonds' parents were surprised by her world record-breaking time

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The parents of Britain's Ellie Simmonds have hailed her Paralympic S6 400m freestyle gold medal win as the "most incredible" achievement of her career.

Simmonds, 17, triumphed in five minutes 19.17 seconds in London to beat the world record by more than five seconds.

Her father, Steve Simmonds, of Walsall, West Midlands, said to get the record back was "top of her Christmas list".

Asked about celebrations, her mother Val said her daughter would want to enjoy time at home.

The family said celebrations were being put on hold as Simmonds, who won two golds in Beijing four years ago, aims for more success in the pool in the S6 200m individual medley.

'Thrives on pressure'

Simmonds relocated to Swansea with her mother at the age of 11 so she could be trained by coach Billy Pye in a 50-metre pool.

The girl's father, brother and three sisters remained in the West Midlands and she continues to travel back on weekends to visit them.

Her mother said: "You want to give your children the best possible opportunity. It certainly rewards that.

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Natasha Baker, Paralympic torch,  Arnaud Assouman

"I was shaking all the way through the race. It was only in the last 20 metres we were confident she would win.

"She'll want to just come home and enjoy a few days at home where we can be all together and just relaxing, and she likes pyjama days."

The parents watched from the stands as their daughter touched home ahead of Victoria Arlen, who held the previous world record, on Saturday evening.

Mr Simmonds revealed she was determined to beat the previous record. "That was the most incredible thing I've ever seen her do," he said.

"The 400-metre world record has got Eleanor Simmonds' name written all over it and she wanted it back."

There was congratulations from Wales, where First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "To win gold at two games is quite an achievement but to do this by the age of 17 is incredible."

Mr Simmonds, who said the teenager's final event would be next Saturday, praised the "unreal atmosphere" inside the Aquatics Centre, which he believed helped his daughter.

Asked about pressure relating to her profile, he added: "It would be silly to say that it hasn't affected her, but she thrives on the pressure.

"Eleanor tends not to wobble. She tends to steel up and firm up under that kind of pressure."

Mr Simmonds admitted the controversy over the inclusion of Arlen in the race had been "unsettling".

But he praised the US swimmer for her composure after she was initially deemed ineligible for competition before being reinstated on Thursday.

A former coach of Ellie Simmonds, head coach at Perry Beeches swimming club David Marsh, said she had learned to swim and improve at a swimming club in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

Mr Marsh, who used to be with Boldmere Swimming Club, said: "It was obvious that she was competitive, she didn't like losing anything and that she wanted to compete and she's worked very, very hard."

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