Swimmer Ellie Simmonds returns to scene of Olympic gold triumph and is hungry for more glory
Ellie Simmonds is competing at the London Aquatics Centre for the first time since winning gold in 2012. The swimmer is targeting more wins at the World Para-Swimming Championships this week.
Simmonds trains at the LAC but has not returned competitively since her golden glory.
She said: “I try not to think about my memories from London 2012 when I’m in the pool in Stratford.
“I walk through those doors of the aquatics centre almost every day so I know it now as just a place where I belong.
“I train there day in day out and when I’m there, I’m always thinking about the next competition. Rarely do I think about my past swimming experience when I’m in the pool.
“However, having a major competition at my training base in the year leading up to Tokyo is going to be an amazing time for me. I do have so many fond memories of 2012.
"Maybe competing at a major competition there this summer will bring back some fond memories from the paralympics – hopefully that will spur me on.”
The 24-year-old took a break from swimming after Rio 2016 as she felt the sport consumed her and that it "was a life or death situation".
Since Simmonds' break the English Institute of Sport have started a programme supporting athletes and promoting positive mental health.
The five-time paralympic champion says that she now has a healthier outlook on the sport.
“I’m a lot older than when I competed in my first championships so my mindset is a bit different, I just go out there and enjoy it and see what I can do.
“For me, it’s more about having fun in the pool. I’d always like to get a personal best and it’s always fun to be on top of the podium but now I try to look at the bigger picture and enjoy the whole event.
“I’m very competitive, so I can’t hold myself back completely but now I put less pressure on myself to perform.
“I’m at that point in my career where I don’t really think about medals anymore – I just go in, compete and swim as fast as I can.
“Whatever medal, whatever colour I get, it’s just a privilege to be back on that podium.
“That said, competing in London might be different – I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to pick up another medal in front of a home crowd.
The eight time world champion is also looking ahead to Tokyo 2020.
“After taking a year out after Rio my main aim was to get back on the team for Tokyo so, as always, I’m going to go out there and give everything I’ve got.”