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Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 10:48 UK

Simmonds makes history with gold

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Video - GB teenager takes swimming gold

Teenager Eleanor Simmonds became Great Britain's youngest ever individual Paralympic gold medallist while Dave Roberts won his eighth swimming title.

The 13-year-old Simmonds produced a sensational swim to shock her rivals in her 100m final at the Water Cube.

"I didn't believe I would be able to do that, " said Simmonds, who was born with achondroplasia, or dwarfism.

Welshman Roberts successfully defended his 100m title as he bids to equal Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul of 11 golds.

The 28-year-old set a new Paralympic record in the final with a time of one minute 0.35 seconds, while compatriot Matt Walker took bronze.

Although he was delighted with his eighth gold medal, Roberts admitted he had been hampered by his goggles, which had leaked during the final.

"There aren't too many people who defend their titles three times, but I would have liked to go 59 seconds," he told BBC Sport.

I did not dream I would win the gold, I'm really happy

Eleanor Simmonds

"My goggles leaked water when I dived in, but if Michael Phelps can do it, so can I."

But the shock story at the Water Cube was Simmonds, who had originally been seen as a medal prospect for London 2012.

The Walsall-born Paralympian clocked a time of one minute 18.75 seconds after pipping Mirjam de Koning-Peper at the finish line.

Simmonds had been trailing going into the final 50m, but produced a brilliant last 25m to pip the 39-year-old Dutchwoman at the finish.

And the youngest member of ParalympicsGB in Beijing admitted she had exceeded her own expectations topping the podium.

"In the last 25m I just got my head down and went for it. I have dreamed of being a Paralympic medallist but didn't think it would happen yet," said Simmonds, whose compatriot Natalie Jones finished fifth in the final.

"I imagined this race in a dream - I finished in the medals. But I did not dream I would win the gold, I'm really happy."


Training at British Swimming's high performance centre in Swansea, Simmonds astonished her coaches with her phenomenal progress, qualifying for the Beijing Games.

And she will going for her second gold in the S6 400m freestyle, an event which she broke the world record in at the British Championships in Sheffield in March 2008.

Joanne Round holds the record as Britain's youngest ever Paralympic gold medallist after winning a swimming relay gold in Seoul 20 years ago.

Another teenager Louise Watkin clinched a surprise silver medal the women's S9 100m freestyle final, won by South Africa's Natalie du Toit, setting a new Paralympic record with a time of one minute 01.44 secs.

Sixteen-year-old Watkin finished with a personal best time of one minute 03.85 secs.

"Hopefully I will be meeting her again in London," said the Kelly College swimmer, who cites Du Toit as her role model.

"When I came here, it (a silver medal) was not on my list. I'm immensely proud of myself and my coaches."

Heather Frederiksen won Team GB's fourth swimming medal of the day after taking silver in the women's S8 100m freestyle final.

The City of Salford swimmer recorded a time of one minute 8.48 secs, finishing behind American Jessica Long.

And she revealed she had misjudged her turn at the 50m stage.

"I had a shocker, I thought I saw the wall but I didn't and I ended up gliding in," she told BBC Sport.

"But I had to keep hacking towards the finishing line. I'm more of a 400m swimmer than a 100m so to get a medal in something that's not my main event is brilliant."

Team-mate Stephanie Millward just finished out of the medals in fifth.

Britons Rhiannon Henry and Jenny Coughlin also missed out in the S13 women's 400m freestyle final.

Sam Hynd finished out of the medals in sixth place with a time of one minute 1.04 secs in his 100m freestyle final.

Anthony Stevens reached the men's S5 50m backstroke final, but was disqualified as Daniel Dias of Brazil took gold.

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Dave Roberts in action

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A-Z of Paralympic classification
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GB Paralympic team for Beijing
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