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Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Teenage star Simmonds becomes MBE

MBE a real honour for Simmonds

Paralympic swimmer Eleanor Simmonds has become the youngest person to be awarded an honour in the New Year Honours list.

Simmonds, who only turned 14 in November, won two gold medals in Beijing and is appointed MBE.

She described the award as "a huge and unexpected honour".

Swimmer David Roberts, who equalled Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson's record of 11 gold medals, and equestrian rider Lee Pearson, who now has nine, become CBEs.

Billy Pye, the coach of both Roberts and Simmonds, is appointed MBE.

Cyclists Darren Kenny, Sarah Storey, Aileen McGlynn and Ellen Hunter, and swimmer Sascha Kindred, become OBEs along with British Swimming disability performance director Tim Reddish and ParalympicsGB chief executive Phil Lane.

Cyclists Mark Bristow, Jody Cundy, Anthony Kappes, Barney Storey, Simon Richardson and David Stone, swimmer Matt Walker, equestrian riders Anne Dunham and Sophie Christiansen and wheelchair racer David Weir all become MBEs.

Simmonds claimed gold in both the S6 100 and 400m freestyle at the age of 13 to become Britain's youngest-ever Paralympic medallist.

Lee Pearson
Pearson is yet to be beaten in three Paralympic equestrian competitions
"This is a real honour and I was so amazed when I got the letter," the 14-year-old told BBC Breakfast.

"I had to keep it a secret, but my mum knew."

Earlier this month she was named the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year but is setting her sights firmly on more golds in London in 2012.

"The last three months have been a whirlwind and, while feeling as though I am living a fairy tale, I want to work hard to keep my feet on the ground and refocus my efforts on my training and my schoolwork so that by 2012 I can hopefully repay in part the wonderful accolades and affection that I have received," she said.

Reddish also praised the efforts of Simmonds, and all of the Paralympians who were honoured.

"This is great recognition for Paralympic sport in general and it shows how disability sport is becoming the norm rather than the exception," he told BBC Sport.

"I can't remember as many athletes being honoured after any previous Games and I'm particularly pleased that swimming has been recognised.

"My own award came as a shock but I'd like to dedicate it to British Swimming because it is the culmination of 10 years of hard work which has brought us to where we are now."

Welsh swimmer Roberts won four golds in Beijing - three individual and one relay - to equal Grey-Thompson's mark of 11 Paralympic gold medals.

Pearson continued his unbeaten record by winning three golds - two individual, one team - for the third successive Paralympic Games.

Previously appointed MBE and OBE, he now becomes a CBE.

"It's great for all of us to be recognised for our achievements and I'm very proud to have been awarded another honour and happy for Anne and Sophie to have been honoured as well," said Pearson, who is now aiming towards 2012.

"I went into the Paralympics with an new and temperamental horse and it was a real test for me. When it got to the end of each of the competitions there was a real relief and to win three golds was unbelievable."

see also
Hoy knighted in New Year honours
31 Dec 08 |  Sport Homepage
Simmonds named Young Personality
14 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Weir storms to second Games gold
16 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Golden swimmer with a will to win
14 Sep 08 |  South east
Roberts & Simmonds shine in pool
14 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Kenny and Stone win cycling golds
13 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Emotional Pearson wins more gold
11 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Storeys add to GB cycling golds
10 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Kindred clinches second pool gold
09 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
GB cyclists take five more golds
09 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
GB collect three equestrian golds
09 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Duo take GB's fourth cycling gold
08 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Kindred claims fifth gold in pool
07 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
British cyclists win three golds
07 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Simmonds makes history with gold
08 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Paralympics - GB's roll of honour
22 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport

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