GB Paralympic swimmer, Eleanor Simmonds visits Surrey Sports Park
23 February 2011
Surrey residents are ‘lucky’ to have great sports facilities like Surrey Sports Park right on their doorstep according to 16-year-old British Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds MBE, who encouraged everyone to get more involved in sport in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Simmonds, who has achondroplasia, is one of Great Britain’s biggest medal prospects at the 2012 Paralympic Games, having won double gold in the 100m and 400m freestyle swimming events at Beijing 2008. The former BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year spent a morning training at Surrey Sports Park and encouraged everyone in Surrey to make the most of the fantastic facilities on offer to them.
She said, “I think everyone in Guildford and Surrey is really luck to have such a great facility like Surrey Sports Park on their doorstep. It’s a world class sports centre, a great training environment and hopefully it will encourage more people to train here and to just enjoy the benefits of sport. There is no doubt facilities such as this will do nothing but help our next generation of elite swimmers. It’s also only a few miles away from London, so hopefully I’ll be able to train here more in the run up to the Games.”
With just over 500 days to the start of the London 2012 Games, Simmonds is training hard and admits that she is really excited about competing in what is the ‘big one’ in her swimming career.
She said, “The Paralympics was my dream event and when going to Beijing 2008, I never thought about coming back with medals. Coming back with two gold medals was such a big achievement, but London 2012 is the big one for me, and I really want to do well.
Tickets for the 2012 Games are to go on sale on Tuesday 15 March, and Simmonds is really looking forward to swimming in front of home support.
“The Paralympics is the biggest event in your career and we are just really lucky to be having a home games in London next year. It’s just going to be amazing, and hopefully the atmosphere and support will drive us on even longer. We’ll all be going out to do our country proud and to do it for the supporters.
“Home support can help you a lot and maybe you can get a few seconds off your time. It really boosts your confidence. In Beijing, whenever the Chinese athletes were competing there was a big roar in the crowd. It was such an amazing sound. Hopefully in London 2012 the crowd will be cheering us on in the same way and we can perform even better.”
Surrey Sports Park will host the Antigua and Barbuda national team in preparation to the London 2012 Games and remain in talks with a host of other teams and nations who are looking for training facilities prior to the next summer’s big event. Surrey is also set to stage sections of the 250km cycle road race starting on the first Saturday of the Games, with GB cyclists Mark Cavendish and Nicole Cooke highly tipped to take gold.