'Piranha' Ellie Simmonds wins another Paralympic gold
Predator or little mermaid? Press captivated by teenage Paralympic swim sensation
ELLIE SIMMONDS, the poster girl of the London 2012 Paralympics, powered her way to a second gold medal in the aquatic centre last night as she set a new world record in the SM6 200m event.
The 17-year-old, who won her first gold on Saturday, produced an extraordinary final length of freestyle to win the race by nine seconds ahead of Germany's Verena Schott and fellow Briton Natalie Jones.
Simmonds, who has dwarfism, first came to prominence at Beijing four years ago, aged just 13, when she won two gold medals. She has now won the same number at London and is intent on doubling that tally. Her performances so far suggest she will succeed in her goal, while her legion of fans continues to grow.
"There is something about our Ellie that inspires real and rare national affection,” says The Daily Telegraph. “Like Jessica Ennis, another little athlete possessing a massive heart, talent and humility to match, it feels like the country loves Simmonds the more they see of her."
The Daily Mail compares her to another prodigy. "A giant poster of Simmonds dominates the entrance to a Paralympic Games on home soil," the paper says. "The same tower block was shrouded in a picture of Tom Daley during the Olympics, but, unlike the teenage British diver who won bronze, Simmonds is not only dealing with the weight of expectation but surpassing it."
It is the ruthless the manner of her swimming that delights her fans, says The Guardian. Her rivals might tower over her on dry land, but they are no match for her in the water. "Last night she was a piranha among dolphins and watching her strip away a deficit in the final leg... was to reinforce the perception of a predator in the Paralympic pool."
The Mail draws a more romantic parallel and dubs her the "little mermaid".
Her dwarfism makes her life "exhausting", claims The Times. "Yet here at the Aquatics Centre Simmonds is the very epitome of relentless energy. There is a fury to her strokes; she does not glide through the water, she chops at it."
She has made the pool her own. It is "Ellie's palace" according to the Telegraph, and even David Cameron was on hand to pay his respects. "The Prime Minister looked more awestruck of her than she was of him when he presented the medals," the Times reports.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, Team GB won a fifth gold at the Olympic Stadium as Mickey Bushell won the T53 100m, meaning that the track and field team have already won three more golds than they managed at Beijing. ·