2020 TOKYO SUMMER PARALYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Wednesday, August 25 – Friday, September 3, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 9 AM / Finals: 5 PM (Local time)
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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.