Ellie Simmonds Named British Flagbearer for Tokyo Paralympic Opening Ceremonies


Four-time Paralympian Ellie Simmonds has been selected as one of two flagbearers for Great Britain at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. Though this is Simmonds’ fourth time representing Great Britain at the Paralympics, Tokyo marks her first time attending the opening ceremony. Simmonds will be joined by fellow flagbearer John Stubbs, a three-time Paralympian who competes in archery.

Simmonds made her Paralympic debut in 2008 at 13-years-old in Beijing, competing in the S6 classification for para swimming. Despite her young age, Simmonds won gold in both the S6 100 and S6 400 meter freestyles. In London 2012 in front of a home crowd, Simmonds won gold in the S6 400m freestyle and SM6 200m IM, silver in the S6 100m freestyle, and bronze in the S6 50m freestyle. At the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Simmonds won gold and set the SM6 World Record in the 200m IM (2:59.81), as well as bronze in the S6 400m freestyle.

At the 2019 Para Swimming World Championships in London, Simmonds won bronze medals in both the SB6 100m breaststroke and S6 400m freestyle, and finished 4th in the SM6 200m IM.

In para swimming, the S6 classification encompasses athletes with disabilities including cerebral palsy, amputations, and short stature. In Simmonds’ case, she has achondroplasia, a genetic disorder characterized by dwarfism. Simmonds is 4 feet tall, per a 2020 feature in The Guardian.

Simmonds is the first woman to carry the British flag in the Paralympics Opening Ceremony since fellow swimmer Maggie McEleny in 2000.

“To go the Paralympic Games and be given the opportunity to do that is just amazing,” Simmonds said, per the BBC.

“This will be my first opening ceremony. Just to be here in Tokyo is amazing but to carry the flag is the icing on the cake and I can’t wait for the competition to start,” says Simmonds.

In Tokyo, Simmonds will compete in the S6 400m freestyle, SB6 100m breaststroke, and SM6 200m IM.

The Paralympic Opening Ceremony will be held Tuesday, August 24 at Tokyo Stadium. Viewing information can be found here.

Explanation of Para Classification System

  • There are 14 classifications for Paralympic swimmers, typically denoted as “S” followed by a number.
  • “SB” designates an athletes classification for breaststroke events
  • “SM” is for individual medley events
  • Athletes with physical impairments are classified in S1-S10, SB1-SB9, and SM1-SM10 with numbers 1-10 ranging from more severe activity limitations to less severe limitations.
  • Athletes with visual impairments are classified in S/SB11-13.
  • Athletes with intellectual impairments are classified in S/SB14.

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10 months ago

For anyone not British, Ellie Simmonds is the most household name currently swimming in british swimming. Yes. Even more than Peaty. Non swimming fans may not know Peaty, everyone knows ellie simmonds. Along with Rebecca Adlington and maybe Duncan Goodhew she may possibly be the most well known ever.

Winning in Beijing at 13, poster girl for the london games. She is one of few para athletes of any sport to appear on non-sport based panel shows. She is such a national treasure and is the perfect flag bearer.

Reply to  Jack
10 months ago

We can celebrate her without needlessly lying. There is absolutely no way she’s more household than Peaty. The social media followings are leagues apart. Tv ratings are similarly leagues apart for OGs vs PGs in the UK

Reply to  Pvdh
10 months ago

He’s right tbh. Ellie Simmonds doesn’t have a dedicated following like Adam, but seriously everybody knows her. I’m 99% sure more people would be able to put a name to her face than Adam Peaty’s if you showed the general public images of them.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dee
Reply to  Pvdh
10 months ago

Yeah that’s absolutely not true, as amazing as Peaty is, people in britain outside rhe swimming world don’t know how good he really is. There are still lots of people who dont know who Peaty is. Everyone knows Simmonds.

Reply to  Jack
10 months ago

On the one hand, I hear what you’re saying, and I don’t live in the UK nor have I asked “everyone” there to validate or dispute what you’ve said.

On the other hand, the public, quantifiable measures don’t align with what you’re saying. Peaty has 544,000 Instagram followers. Ellie Simmonds has 19,800.

Sure we don’t know that all of Peaty’s followers are in the UK. In fact, we know they’re not – because I’m not in the UK and I follow him. But that’s a factor of more than 27x as many followers.

If Simmonds were as big as you say, her team would have, at a minimum, juiced her social media channels ahead of the Paralympics to try to… Read more »

Reply to  swimapologist
10 months ago

Lets be blunt about IG – it’s 20% inspirational/entertainment follows, 30% people you know, and 50% people you wanna ****. On a platform that is almost 60% female and almost 60% under the age of 35, I think we all know why Adam’s getting follows. It is in no way a measurement of recognition among the wider public.

We’re both British, we both love Adam, and we’re both saying the same thing… Ellie was the face of a home Paralympic Games and youngest ever MBE in British history – Her facial/name recognition is off the chart for a swimmer.

Reply to  Dee
10 months ago

I’m a Brit and I can third this.

(and for a metric that is probably a smidge more accurate than global instagram followers, Elle Simmonds highest SPOTY vote was 102,894, and Peaty’s is 63,739).

Reply to  Emg1986
10 months ago

That and SPOTY is the most stupid corrupt joke of an awards there can be. Constantly Rugby Tennis ans Boxers who have each won 1 event rather than athletes in racing sports who pick up multiple titles.

Jonathan Charbroiled Steak
10 months ago

Talk about versatility! 400m free, 50m fly, 100m breast!

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

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