Eleanor Simmonds and Oscar Pistorius at International Paralympic Day, 2011, Nick Webb., CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Full Name: Eleanor “Ellie” Simmonds

Birth Date: November 11, 1994

Location: Walsall, West Midlands, England

Monument Type: Historic/Residence

Born on November 11, 1994 in England, Eleanor “Ellie” Simmonds has already achieved a lot in her young life. Ellie was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. When she was five years old, her parents decided to take her swimming to boost her confidence. She thrived in the water. The 2004 Athens Paralympic Games inspired Ellie to become a professional swimmer. Swimmer Nyree Lewis won a gold medal during those games for Britain. It was then that Ellie decided she wanted to win a gold medal of her own. Two short years later, Ellie made her professional debut at the International Paralympic Committee Swimming World Championships in Durban, South Africa.

Although Ellie did not place in Durban, she shone at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. She won two gold medals there, becoming the second youngest British Paralympian to place. The same year, she won BBC’s Young Sports Personality of the Year back home in the UK. In 2009, Ellie won six gold and one silver medals at the IPC Swimming World Championships Short Course in Rio de Janeiro. She also became the youngest Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2009. She continued her winning streak during Eindhoven’s IPC Swimming World Championships in 2010. In Eindhoven, she won four gold medals, one silver, and one bronze. In the 2011 European Championships in Berlin, Ellie won two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal.

In 2012, Ellie was a major face of the British Summer Olympics, it being her home country. Ellie won two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal during the games and also broke two world records. At the end of that year, she advanced to Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. She went on to win three gold medals and one bronze in the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships. Unfortunately, 2015 saw Ellie losing her 7-year streak of winning the 400 meter freestyle swim during the IPC Swimming World Championships. In 2016, she won one silver and three bronze medals during the European Championships. She then went on to win one gold and one bronze medal during the Rio Olympics where she broke another world record. Her final appearance in the Olympics was during the 2020 Tokyo Games. Even though she did not place, she was content with the work she had accomplished.

Ellie’s motto is “‘work hard and be yourself,’” and she exemplifies this motto in both her personal and professional lives (paralympic.org). Ellie has a degree in Psychology from England’s Loughborough University. Two other British universities awarded her honorary degrees as well. She is passionate about ocean conservation and traveling. For example, she taught children about the ocean during her turn in the BBC’s Celebrity Supply Teacher Program. Ellie has also acted as an ambassador for Sainsbury’s Active Kids Holiday Clubs and WaterAid, been a patron for the Dwarf Sports Association UK, and was a Girlguiding leader. Ellie hopes to one day work full-time as a teacher working abroad. Most recently, she starred in a BBC documentary called A World Without Dwarfism. In the film, she talked to British and American people with dwarfism about their thoughts and experiences with treatments that aim to let children with dwarfism reach an average height. As she explains, Ellie herself would never change a thing about her dwarfism, happy with the life she has with it.


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