Striking new photographs of champion Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds about to start a training session and former champion, now Director of Paralympic Integration, Chris Holmes relaxing in the water, were revealed today as part of the next installment of an exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery.
The portraits by Finlay MacKay and Emma Hardy, were commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project. Their work will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery from 25 July to 25 September 2011 in Road to 2012: Changing Pace, the second exhibition in a three-year cycle funded by BT, that documents Britain’s medal hopefuls and key figures behind the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Admission to the exhibition is free.
In Road to 2012: Changing Pace, the portraits will show top athletes in dramatic sporting poses alongside the people who have mentored them as well as those involved in the staging of London 2012, many of whom are shown out of the office in reflective moments.
Finlay Mackay photographs athletes with the trainers, coaches or family members whom they nominated as being pivotal to their sporting success. Eleanor Simmonds, 2008 Paralympic double gold medalist, is shown with her trainer Billy Pye, on the starting block at the Wales National Pool in Swansea.
Simmonds, the youngest-ever individual Paralympic or Olympic gold medalist, won the 100m and 400m freestyle swimming events in Beijing 2008 aged 13 - a feat her mother attributes in part to her trainer, Billy Pye.
“She might have qualified, she might have gone, but she wouldn’t have achieved what she achieved in Beijing without Billy,” said Val Simmonds, Eleanor’s mother.
Emma Hardy’s portraits show the people responsible for staging the Paralympic Games in pursuits which in some cases reflect their former sports careers. Chris Holmes, the blind director of Paralympic Integration and one of Britain’s most successful Paralympic swimmers, is photographed taking time out from the day job in the water.
For more details on the Exhibition, Road to 2012: Changing Pace, in the Studio Gallery and Ondaatje Wing Main Hall, National Portrait Gallery, London, visit www.npg.org.uk/roadto2012.