How has your preparation been for this year’s Paralympics? Coming into the selection trials for the Paralympics training has been awesome. I think it’s been the best training I’ve had coming into competition, so I had high expectations on myself to go for personal bests. I’ve been unhappy with some of my swims but, for me, I always want to do that bit extra – but I can now look back at what I need to improve on.
What events are you targeting?
At the Paralympics I hope to do four events: 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley. It’s going to be tough but it will be over 10 days and the pool’s amazing and with the atmosphere – hopefully everyone’s going to be cheering us on – it’s just going to be a different ball game.
Is there extra pressure to keep that gold rush going?
I think there is but there’s not just going to be pressure on me because I’m a gold medallist going into the Games; there’s going to be pressure on all of the British swimmers with it being a home Games. The country wants us to do well. There’s that added pressure on me because I went into Beijing unknown and came out with two gold medals, which was a big surprise. Going to London, I’ll have a lot of pressure but so far I’ve coped with it really well. It drives me forward and makes me want to achieve so, hopefully, I’ll keep that pressure on my side.
How did it feel being the first person to break a world record in London’s Olympic pool? It was emotional. I just couldn’t believe it. I’ve had a bit of a tough week not achieving what I wanted to achieve on my freestyle, so to come into the 200m freestyle to break my world record, I’m so happy with myself. I’ve been working really hard with my coach Billy [Pye] and so I did have a bit of confidence going into it but, to smash it and go and get a world record in this pool with the home crowd and everything, is just amazing.
Has that given you a taste of what it will be like at a home Paralympics? It’s going to be really good having a home crowd and everyone cheering, and knowing it’s going to be 10 times more exciting at the Paralympics. I just can’t wait. It’s exciting but I’m taking everything as it comes, as I’ve got second trials coming up and then my main focus is on London.
Do you feel your performances have gone some way to changing perceptions about Paralympic sport? I think so, definitely. The awareness of Paralympic sport is getting bigger and that’s great because it shows people who don’t know that they can achieve something, who have a disability, that they can get into something they can achieve in and find their talent. And it’s not just me; people like Sasha [Kindred] and David [Roberts] – we’re all giving Paralympic sport a great name and I think, with London 2012 especially, it’s going to leave a big legacy.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Fitness Professionals Ltd or Virtual Magazine. Consult a qualified health or fitness professional before making changes to your diet or exercise.
Watch Eleanor Simmonds compete in London at the Paralympic Games between Thursday 30 August and Saturday 8 September 2012.