Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Maisie Summers-Newton lauds Ellie Simmonds as she targets own Olympic legacy

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Double Paralympic swimming champion Maisie Summers-Newton will be “forever grateful” for the trailblazing influence of Ellie Simmonds as she bids to fully emerge from her long-time idol’s shadow in Paris.

Summers-Newton stormed to 200m medley and 100m breaststroke glory three years ago in Tokyo and is preparing to defend her titles after being selected for a second successive Games.

The 21-year-old was inspired by Simmonds’ exploits in the pool, which brought five Paralympic gold medals between 2008 and 2016, before outshining her former team-mate in Japan.

Summers-Newton feels comparisons between the pair, who were both born with the genetic condition achondroplasia, are bound to persist but is eager to create her own lasting legacy.

“They will always be there but hopefully when we’re in Paris I will – not get away from it because Ellie is always a part of me – but hopefully show my own name a little bit more,” she told the PA news agency.

“Everything she has done for Para sport is incredible and being able to race with her in her last ever Paralympic race in Tokyo was a really, really special moment.

“I will be forever grateful for all of her support.

“We still chat and it’s been really nice as well because, at Paralympic trials, she was commentating and announcing so that was really special.”

Summers-Newton was on Monday named in ParalympicsGB’s 26-strong swimming squad for the upcoming Games.

With just 100 days to go until competition starts on August 28, she feels in “really good shape”, having clinched five world gold medals and a Commonwealth title during the past two years.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself but the ultimate goal would be to come away with two gold medals again,” she said.

Maisie Summers-Newton has won world and Commonwealth titles during the past two years (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I know that I’m in really good shape and really good form.

“Fingers crossed for the medals but the main aim is just to enjoy it and have fun.”

GB’s squad features 15 Paralympic debutants, including 13-year-old Iona Winnifrith and visually-impaired identical twins Eliza and Scarlett Humphrey.

The 19-year-old sisters, who were born with the eye disorder Leber Congenital Amaurosis, race in the S11 category and could compete directly against each other in the French capital.

Twin sisters Eliza, left, and Scarlett Humphrey will make Paralympic debuts in Paris
Twin sisters Eliza, left, and Scarlett Humphrey will make Paralympic debuts in Paris (Sam Mellish/Paralympics GB/PA)

“It’s really special because you’re sharing the biggest moments of your life and your sporting career with your best friend,” said Scarlett who, like Eliza and Summers-Newton, represents Northampton Swimming Club.

“But also we’re quite competitive, so you want to be the one that finishes first.

“It will keep us working hard to give our best in Paris but it’s great to have the opportunity to share the experience together.

“We’ll race hard in the pool and then enjoy it together outside of the pool.”

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