Swansea University has awarded an honorary degree to five-time Paralympic champion, Ellie Simmonds OBE.
The award was presented to Ms Simmonds today (10 January 2018) at the University’s degree ceremony for the College of Human and Health Sciences.
Eleanor ‘Ellie’ Simmonds shot to fame when she won her first Paralympic medal at the age of 13. This marked the start of a string of firsts as she went on to become the youngest winner of the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year in 2008 and then the youngest recipient of an MBE at the age of 14.
Ellie started swimming at the age of five. Her disability, classified as Achondroplasia dwarfism proved no barrier to her and by the age of eight she was competing against able-bodied children. At the age of 10, her talent was spotted at a disability event and she was entered onto the British Swimming talent programme. She worked her way through to be selected as the youngest member of a senior British Swimming squad for the 2006 IPC World Championships at just 12 years old.
Ellie has continued to dominate her sport, winning 13 World titles, 10 European titles and breaking various World records along the way. In addition to these achievements, Ellie competed at the London 2012 Paralympics, winning four medals, including two Gold medals, and she broke a further two World records. In the lead up to London 2012, Ellie had become the poster girl for the Paralympic games and her success helped make her the most recognised Paralympic athlete in Great Britain, if not the world.
Her reputation as a world-class athlete was secured with incredible performances at London 2012, and she followed up her Paralympic win with equally stunning performances at the IPC World Championships when she won consecutive Gold medals in 2013, 2014 and 2015; cementing her status as Britain’s golden girl.
Most recently, Ellie returned with a Gold medal from the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Presenting the award to Ellie Simmonds was Professor Hilary Lappin-Scott, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Swansea University.
“We are very proud that Ellie has used the University’s sports village, home to the Wales National Pool Swansea, as the base for her training, where the University hosted the International Paralympic Championships in 2014.
Ellie Simmonds has captured both the hearts and minds of the British public. We at the University certainly have a special admiration for Ellie, and we are immensely proud to welcome such an inspirational figure into our honorary fellowship.”