Pep talk from idol Simmonds inspires Maisie Summers-Newton to Paralympic glory

Maisie Summers-Newton revealed how a pep talk from idol Ellie Simmonds helped her claim Paralympic gold on Thursday morning.

By James Toney
Thursday, 26th August 2021, 2:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th August 2021, 2:12 pm
A delighted Maisie Summers-Newton shows off her Paralympic gold medal won in Tokyo on Thursday morning
A delighted Maisie Summers-Newton shows off her Paralympic gold medal won in Tokyo on Thursday morning

Ukraine's Yelyzaveta Mereshko took the Northampton Swimming Club ace's SM6 200m medley world record in the heats but a firm word from Simmonds fired her up for the final, as the teenager snatched it right back. It seems you 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," she said, Simmonds finishing 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 became an incredible friend."

Maisie Summers-Newton (left) and Ellie Simmonds have become close friends

Simmonds burst onto the scene with her double gold, aged just 13, at the Beijing Paralympics. Now she's the team veteran, aged 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 here is the 400m freestyle 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 Wollaston girl 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," she added.

"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."

With rules banning foreign visitors, Summers-Newton was watched by friends and family back home in the village of Wollaston, while team-mates at NSC got up early to cheer her on.

"I hope they all enjoyed it," she said.

"I've not been looking at my phone because sometimes it can get in your head and I wanted to focus on this. I just hope I've done them proud."

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