Superstar Summers-Newton battles through sleepless Tokyo nights to beat 'idol' Simmonds and confirm passing of the torch

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Precocious Summers-Newton, 19, is enjoying a Paralympic debut to savour at Tokyo 2020
Precocious Summers-Newton, 19, is enjoying a Paralympic debut to savour at Tokyo 2020

By Charlie Bennett in Tokyo

Maisie Summers-Newton has struggled to sleep in Tokyo but seeing as a second Paralympic gold was beyond her wildest dreams, that’s probably just as well.

The 19-year-old was once again the class of the pool in the SB6 100m breaststroke, handsomely beating teammate Ellie Simmonds in a result that all but confirms the passing of the torch in British para swimming.

Summers-Newton was not quite as dominant as she was in Thursday’s individual medley and had to dig deeper than ever before to hold off China’s charging Daomin Liu, while Simmonds finished fourth – 7.6 seconds off the pace.

Summers-Newton, 19, could yet make it a hat-trick in the 400m freestyle next week. She played down her chances in the aftermath of win number two, but life is so good right now she should probably try the lottery.

“I'd hoped for the first one in the IM but to get two golds, it's just what dreams are made of isn't it really,” she said.

“It’s just incredible obviously – I have no words. I don't think this one has sunk in as much as the medley because I really, really wanted it so this one is just the icing on the cake definitely.

“The last 25 is definitely the most important because you just want to touch the wall first. I kept looking out the side of my goggles and just thinking 'please don't catch up to me'.

“But when I saw how close I was to the wall I just gritted my teeth and tried to get there first and it obviously worked.

“Nerves were pretty high before the IM as I didn't really know what to expect but after that I've just been on such a high.

“Sleep's been pretty difficult but I've tried to get as much as I can. Tonight I was just so excited and ready to race off the back of what happened in the medley. I just really wanted to enjoy it too because I had no pressure on me for these two so I think that definitely helped.”

After a promising start, Simmonds faded in the second half of the race and wound up 3.88 seconds off USA’s bronze medallist Sophia Herzog.

Simmonds spoke of a new holistic approach on the eve of her fourth Paralympics, after struggling to handle the pressure and mental strain that comes with being such an icon and Summers-Newton believes her teammate is delivering on her goals.

She added: “I think Ellie's here - I don't want to speak on behalf of her - but I think obviously she's here for her fourth Games just to really enjoy it and just to be with the team, I think that's what everyone aims for.”

Summers-Newton’s gold was the first of three medals in the pool, as Grace Harvey took silver in the SB5 100m breaststroke and the mixed 4x100m relay set a new world record en route to gold.

The quartet of Reece Dunn, Bethany Firth, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Jordan Catchpole clocked 3:40.63 to shave 1.5 seconds off their mark from two years ago.

Catchpole started the final leg almost two seconds down on Australia’s Madelaine McTernan but turned on the jets to go eight seconds quicker and lead GB to a comfortable title.

Sainsbury’s is a proud supporter of ParalympicsGB and a champion of inclusive sport for all. Sainsbury’s commitment to helping customers to eat better has been at the heart of what we do since 1869. For more information on Sainsbury’s visit www.sainsburys.co.uk/ and https://paralympics.org.uk/

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