Ellie Simmonds: Paralympic gold medallist criticises British Swimming over support

Ellie Simmonds
Simmonds made her Paralympic debut in Beijing aged 13
British Para-swimming International Meet
Venue: Ponds Forge, Sheffield Date: 31 May-3 June Time: Heats from 09:30 BST, finals from 17:00 BST
Coverage: Live on the BBC Sport website, connected TV and BBC Sport app

Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds has criticised British Swimming after she marked her return to elite action with a European Championship qualification standard in the SM6 200m medley.

The 23-year-old took a year's break after the Rio Games, saying she "hated" the sport, before finding her love for it again.

But after beating domestic rival Maisie Summers-Newton at the British Para-swimming International Meet, Simmonds said the governing body "hasn't been there for me the last couple of years".

"I felt I had something to prove to British Swimming," Simmonds added to BBC Sport.

"I wanted to prove them wrong and that I am still there and still in with a chance to qualify for the Europeans."

When contacted by the BBC, British Swimming declined to comment on Simmonds' remarks.

Simmonds, who was part of the British Swimming podium programme until taking her break from the sport, had to use all her racing experience to get the better of her 15-year-old rival.

The five-time Paralympic champion was 1.75 seconds slower than Summers-Newton in the morning heats of an event in which she won Paralympic gold in 2012 and 2016.

But in the final she put in a storming second half of the race to clock three minutes 3.40 seconds, beating Summers-Newton by 0.39 seconds.

"We haven't been doing much medley training so I don't know where that time has come from," said Simmonds, whose world record in the event is 2:59.81. "I think it was that will to qualify that got me through.

"I felt so, so nervous and physically sick before the race. The last time I felt this nervous before a race was for my 400m freestyle at London 2012.

"I'm so proud. I knew it would be tough to qualify, but I just wanted to be on the team."

The time gave Simmonds the overall bronze medal in the World Para Series, with swimmers given a points score based on how close they get to the world record in their own category.

Both she and Summers-Newton were comfortably inside the 3:05.57 qualification standard for August's World Para-swimming European Championships in Dublin.

There was also a qualification standard and a British record for Ellie Robinson in the S6 freestyle, with the 16-year-old setting a new time of 34.16secs.

The only world record of the night came in the S5 50m freestyle with 14-time Paralympic champion Daniel Dias from Brazil improving his mark of 31.94secs by 0.04 seconds.