Ellie earned international attention at the Beijing Games in 2008 when aged just 13 she won two gold medals (in the 100m and 400m freestyle events). Ellie also competed in three other events at the Games and her hard work was rewarded further when she was voted the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. Ellie repeated her success at the 2012 Games in London winning gold in the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley events. In January 2009 she was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen‚Äôs New Years Honours List. In Rio this year she made more history by becoming the first SM6 swimmer to finish below three minutes in the 200m medley. She also won bronze in the 400m freestyle.
Mary began swimming at the age of nine as it gave her a sense of independence. She continued swimming throughout her time in school and as a result of her dedication she qualified for the Paralympics in London in 2012. At the Games she won gold in the 200m individual medley SM11, setting a new world record time of 2:46:91. She also won two silver medals and a bronze medal. The following year at the IPC Swimming World Championships she won a total of six medals ‚Äì five gold and one silver. In 2013 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to swimming and at the 2014 Halberg Awards she was named Disabled Sportsperson of the Year. At the Rio Games she set a new world record on her way to winning gold in the 100m backstroke S11. Mary also gives back to the sport that she loves as she is a mentor at the Blind Foundation in New Zealand where she helps other swimmers.
Yelyzaveta Mereshko began swimming in 2003 as her mother thought it might help her health improve (Yelyzaveta suffers from Cerebral Palsy). Yelyzaveta took to the sport immediately and her competitiveness led to her taking the sport seriously. In 2014 she made her senior international debut representing Ukraine. She won a total of six medals at the European Championships that year and she followed this success up the following year at the World Championships by winning five medals. In Rio this year she won four gold medals and one bronze.
Teresa Perales is the most decorated Paralympian in Spanish history having amassed a total of 26 medals over five Summer Paralympics. At the age of 19 she developed neuropathy, a nerve disorder which affected the use of her legs; it was after her diagnosis that she began swimming. She has competed in every Summer Paralympics since Sydney in 2000 winning seven gold medals, nine silver medals and seven bronze medals. In Rio this year, at the age of 40, she won four medals (one gold and three silver). Teresa has used her success as a Paralympic athlete to inspire others as she regularly speaks to younger people to encourage them to participate in sports. In 2013 she was awarded the highest honour for sportspeople in Spain, the Grand Cross in the Royal Order of Sporting Merit.
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