Simmonds retains world title on opening day in Montreal
Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds landed her first gold of the 2013 IPC World Championships with an emphatic victory in the S6 400m Freestyle final in Montreal.
The 18-year old – who is defending four World titles in Canada – had qualified 21 seconds clear of the field and underlined her superiority with a 5:24.02 effort to take gold.
Mexico’s silver medallist Vianney Trejo Delgadillo was 20 seconds back on 5:44.47 while Brazil’s Susana Ribeiro took bronze on 5:47.78.
Having only swum faster for her world record to win Paralympic gold last year, Simmonds admitted she couldn’t have hoped for much more from her first event of the meet.
“I’m really pleased with that race and it was a really good time,” said Simmonds.
“The Italian girl came with me on the first 100 which was interesting but I managed to get out on my own and swim my race.
“That was a bit harder in a way because I’m a racer and love to have people with me to race.
“It was a different pressure today as well. I was still really nervous but I have felt a lot less pressure than London because that was a home Paralympics.”
It was a busy first day for the British Gas GBR Disability Swimming Team as a total of ten medals were won, with four of them gold.
Josef Craig and Jessica-Jane Applegate each added the World title to their Paralympic crowns in the S7 400m Freestyle and S14 200m Freestyle respectively.
Craig won an enthralling battle for gold in his final, passing Russia’s Andrey Gladkov in the final 10m to take the touch by 0.05 seconds in 4:39.14, both athletes sailing under Craig’s old world record of 4:41.13.
And having seen his European rival pass him during the fifth of eight lengths, the 16-year old admitted he was determined not to let the gold slip away from him without a fight.
“I had a blistering first 100 and I knew it was too fast and I was going to suffer for it,” said Craig.
“Andrey grabbed his chance and got ahead of me but that motivated me to get back in it. It was a game of cat and mouse and this time I was the cat and won it.
“It’s the first race of my four in this competition so I can’t rest on my laurels yet. I need to go ahead and see what I can do.
“That’s given me confidence to go forward and see if I can win some more medals.”
Jonathan Fox joined Craig on the podium as he bounced back from his fourth in this event at London 2012 to finish third in 4:44.46.
Applegate showed her impressive back end speed to storm to a world record and her first World Championship gold medal in a time of 2:09.88.
The Paralympic champion turned fourth at the 100m mark but kept her patience to swim through the field and take gold ahead of Ireland’s Bethany Firth (2:11.91) and Australia’s Taylor Corry (2:13.45) with GB teammate Chloe Davies fifth in 2:16.57.
“That was definitely a tough race,” said Applegate. “I really had to dig deep in that last length.
“I could see someone out in an outside lane who was going out fast but I had to try and not get too far behind.
“I was dying a bit on those last 50 but obviously had enough to hold on.”
Steph Millward was the fourth Brit to land gold on the opening night with victory in the S9 100m Freestyle.
Having won five silvers on her Worlds debut in 2010 and four silvers at London 2012 last year, Millward finally got her hands on gold as she clocked her best time since 2010 to take the touch in 1:04.00.
Millward’s teammate Amy Marren joined her on the podium, claiming her first international medal with silver in 1:04.41 ahead of Spain’s Sarai Gascon in 1:04.54 while GB’s Claire Cashmore was fifth in 1:06.39.
“That was amazing. Absolutely amazing,” said Millward.
“I would never have dreamed myself to be a freestyle swimmer but now I’m world champion on freestyle.
“It’s crazy. It’s probably my third stroke behind backstroke and butterfly and now I’m world champion.
“I wanted to come back to freestyle after not competing it at the Paralympics and I’ve been doing more training with my new squad Aquae Sulis.”
European record holder Susie Rodgers won silver in the women’s S7 400m Free, touching in a season’s best 5:21.15 behind USA’s Courtney Jordan (5:19.60) to step up from her bronze at London 2012.
Hannah Russell also improved on her Paralympic position in the S12 100m Freestyle, taking silver medal in 1:01.08, while Ollie Hynd claimed bronze in the men’s S8 100m Backstroke in a British record 1:05.10.
Having lowered his European record to 37.96 in the S5 50m Butterfly heats, Andrew Mullen claimed his first World Championship medal in the final, securing bronze with a time of 38.18.
Rob Welbourn finished in seventh place in the S10 100m Freestyle after touching in 55.41 while Ben Procter and Dan Pepper finished in fifth and seventh place respectively in the men’s S14 200m Freestyle. Procter touched in 2:03.10 and Pepper in 2:04.31.