Pride and excitement as four Northampton Swimming Club members arrive in Japan for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

'Hopefully these athletes will inspire the rest of our club and other children in the country'

By Jack Duggan
Friday, 13th August 2021, 7:22 am
(L-R) Northampton Swimming Club members Ellie Robinson, Zara Mullooly, Will Perry and Maisie Summers-Newton at the airport before heading to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
(L-R) Northampton Swimming Club members Ellie Robinson, Zara Mullooly, Will Perry and Maisie Summers-Newton at the airport before heading to Japan for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Northampton Swimming Club is full of pride and excitement as four of its members have arrived in Japan for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Ellie Robinson, Maisie Summers-Newton, Zara Mullooly and Will Perry had their final training session in Northampton on Tuesday (August 10) before flying the next day.

They will have to wait a couple of weeks to start competing in the Games and head coach Andy Sharp told the Chronicle & Echo they cannot wait to watch them give it their all after a difficult 18 months.

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"We're really excited as a club, we're really proud of all our swimmers' achievements and to have four athletes at the Paralymics is amazing," he said.

Ellie is the most experienced of the quartet despite only being 19 years-old, having won gold in the 50m butterfly and bronze in the 100-metre freestyle at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

She will be competing in the 50m butterfly again after winning silver in the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London and golds at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships in 2018.

World and European champion Maisie will be contesting the 200m individual medley, the 100m breaststroke and 400m freestyle at her first Games.

(L-R) Northampton Swimming Club members Zara Mullooly, Maisie Summers-Newton, Will Perry and British Swimming coach Jacqui Marshall ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Fellow Paralympics debutant and European gold medal winner, Zara, will be swimming in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle.

Will is scheduled to compete in the 200m individual medley, 100m freestyle and 100m breaststroke, as well as potentially taking part in the relays, along with Ellie and Maisie.

As well as delaying the Games to 2021, the coronavirus pandemic meant swimmers were unable to train for months as pools were closed in the first lockdown - on top of all the other strains.

Northampton Swimming Club relied on training sessions on land over Zoom to get by before pools reopened in the summer and stayed open in the subsequent shutdowns for elite athletes.

(L-R) Northampton Swimming Club members Will Perry, Ellie Robinson and Maisie Summers-Newton at their final training session before the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

When asked about their medal hopes, Andy said: "With the year we have had as a club, we tell the swimmers just to enjoy the experience and do only their best.

"If they pick up a medal, that's great but don't focus on medals. They have done amazingly well to qualify.

"If they make a final, there are eight lanes available and as we saw at the Olympics, medals can come from anywhere.

"Each swimmer may have individual targets but we should encourage them to be relaxed and enjoy it then what will be will be."

Maisie and Will's events are the first scheduled to start on August 25, with most heats starting in the early hours of the morning but the finals should be between 10am and 12pm.

Andy said they have not planned any viewing parties as seen for some of the Olympic finals because of Covid but they hope to have a party when the team returns.

There will also be another friendly face at the Games for the Northampton athletes as the club's former director of swimming, Jacqui Marshall, now works as a coach for British Swimming.

Andy said all of them were inspired by the London 2012 Paralympics and can be proud that nine years later they are competing themselves.

"The legacy from the London Olympics has inspired these athletes and hopefully these athletes will inspire the rest of our club and other children in the country," he said.