Summers-Newton touched home first in the SM6 200m medley with teammate Simmonds sixth
It seems Maisie Summers-Newton prefers to keep her friends close and her enemies in her wake.
Britain’s latest Paralympic swim star revealed a pep talk from idol Ellie Simmonds helped her claim the SM6 200m medley title in Tokyo.
Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko took her world record in the heats but a firm word from Simmonds fired her up for the final, as the teenager snatched it right back. Don’t mess with Maisie.
Summers-Newton, 19, touched home in 2.56.68, her face etched with disbelief at the realisation of a dream that started when she watched Simmonds win the same event at London 2012.
“When I saw my record go Ellie said straight away – you can get it back and that definitely helped," ela disse, as Simmonds finished a distant sixth in an event that was a tune-up for other challenges to come.
“It’s pretty cool to beat your idol. She’s such an amazing swimmer and she’s done so much for para-sport. Having her there is really supportive and comforting in a way, knowing she’s done it for such a long time.
“I watched her in London and that was just insane. I think I first met her fully in 2013, I went to watch her at the nationals and I was just inspired. She’s just became an incredible friend.”
Simmonds burst onto the scene with her double gold, envelhecido apenas 13, at the Beijing Paralympics. Now she’s the team veteran, envelhecido 26, always there with a friendly or encouraging word.
“Maisie is the nicest girl in the world and I’m so happy for her,” said Simmonds, whose main target is the 400m freestyle title she won in Beijing and London.
“It’s nice I inspired her and now she’s the one doing the inspiring, it’s amazing that she’s carrying that on.
“I can’t remember exactly what I said after the race, just a big hug and congratulations, I was just so happy for her.”
And this could be just the start for Summers-Newton, who seized control of this race on the breaststroke leg, surging past Mereshko and the opening up clear water.
“I’m really excited about the 100m breaststroke on Saturday now," ela adicionou.
“I’ve been working so hard on that in training and everything just paid off. I gave it my absolute all and now I’ve got this medal, I’m just lost for words and hopefully I can pull something out the bag again.”
Enquanto isso, Tully Kearney took just 24 hours to turn silver into gold in a classy display of Paralympic alchemy.
The three-time world champion cut a sad figure after second place in the S5 200m freestyle but was all smiles after surging to 100m gold – also in a new world record time.
Stories of Paralympic resilience are the norm here in Tokyo but Kearney’s is worth telling – five years ago she was told never to swim again and just a few months ago a recurring shoulder injury looked to have ended her dreams of Paralympic selection, just as happened before Rio.
But all good things eventually come to those who work as hard as Tulley, who is known as one of the most committed swimmers on the British team.
“It’s made everything worth it,” said Kearney. “I tried not to watch Rio because it made me upset, it was really frustrating seeing the races won in slower times than I’d produced the year before but at that point I never thought I’d swim again. It was a case of thinking my dream was over and that I’d never get to a Paralympics, so to get here now and win a gold medal is crazy.
“Three weeks ago I got to the point where my shoulder was getting worse every session and I couldn’t swim, it was too painful.
“I didn’t actually think I would make it out here so the fact that I have and then gone and won is just insane. I was so disappointed with the silver medal, it feels pretty cool to be standing here with a gold one.”
Kearney and Simmonds went to school together, the latter just a couple of years her team-mate’s senior.
“I’m so pleased for Tully," ela adicionou. “I know how hard she’s worked for this and how many tough times she’s had to go through – that’s absolutely brilliant.”
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