Simmonds excited by new rivalry with Ukrainian

British Paralympic swimming champion says Yelyzaveta Mereshko will push her to the maximum at July’s World Championships in Glasgow. 02 Feb 2015
Ellie Simmonds

Ellie Simmonds won gold in the 400m freestyle S6 on Day 3 of London 2012.

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“I’m always very good with pressure, I can deal with it. It drives me forward, I feel people expect me to win so I need show them what I’m made of so it gets me even more excited.”

With less than six months to go until the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain, home favourite Ellie Simmonds has said she is relishing her new found rivalry with Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko because it is pushing her to achieve even greater things.

At last August’s European Championships in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, Simmonds won three individual gold medals but was beaten in the 50m and 100m freestyle S6 events by Mereshko.

The 22-year-old Ukrainian also smashed Simmonds’ two-year-old European record in the 100m freestyle by over a second to cap a memorable first major international competition.

Despite missing out on two European titles, Simmonds believes the rivalry is only a good thing. “Having a new rival - the Ukrainian who beat me in the 50m and 100m free - does spur you on,” said Simmonds who in Glasgow will be looking to defend three world titles, including the 100m freestyle.

“She [Mereshko] pushed me to personal bests and, in the 50m free I haven’t PB’ed in that for four years, last year I finally got under 36 seconds twice. Having her besides me definitely pushed me to that.

“It will be great to race at Worlds, they will be exciting races and it’s going to be nerve racking but it’s going to be great to be pushed to the maximum.”

Although Simmonds knows she will face stiff competition at the Worlds in Glasgow between 13 and 19 July, she is looking forward to competing in home water and reviving some of the memories she experienced more than two years ago.

“I’m very excited to be competing in Glasgow at home really in the United Kingdom. It’s really good and I hope we can get a home advantage using the crowds like we did at London 2012,” said 19-year-old Simmonds who has won seven World and four Paralympic titles since 2008.

“It will be incredible to compete and represent my home country at World Championships, the second biggest sporting event compared to the Paralympics in the year before Rio 2016. It’s going to be really exciting.”

As arguably the most recognised Paralympian in Great Britain, Simmonds knows that the majority of the home crowd attending the Championships at Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre will be looking to her to top the podium.

“I do feel like I have loads of pressure, especially going into London 2012 I had tons of pressure,” explained Simmonds. “I had people expecting me to get gold but, if I can cope with the pressure that I did with London then I can cope with anything. That’s how I feel.

“I’m always very good with pressure, I can deal with it. It drives me forward, I feel people expect me to win so I need show them what I’m made of so it gets me even more excited.”

Should she qualify for the British team, Simmonds is likely to be one of 650 swimmers from 50 countries competing at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships, the last major international competition ahead of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

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