Five-time Paralympic swimming champion and trailblazer for disability sport Ellie Simmonds OBE will be the guest of honour at the 2017 Isle of Man Sports Awards sponsored by Microgaming Play It Forward this spring.
Ellie has competed for Great Britain at three successive Paralympic Games, winning eight medals, including five golds.
She took the sport by storm in 2008 when at the age of 13 she became the youngest member of Team GB at the Beijing Paralympics, clinching gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events.
Ellie went on to win four medals including two golds at London 2012, and took gold again at the Rio Paralympics in 2016, setting new records in the pool at both events. She featured in a poster campaign in the run-up to the London games, and is among the most recognised Paralympic athletes in the world.
She’s continued to dominate her sport, winning 13 World titles, 10 European titles and breaking a number of world records along the way.
In a string of firsts, Ellie was the youngest winner of the 2008 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, and went on to become the youngest person ever to receive an MBE when she was awarded the honour in 2009 for services to Paralympic sport. In 2013 she was elevated to OBE.
Ellie said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled to have been invited to attend the Isle of Man Sports Awards, for what will no doubt be an amazing evening. I’ve always wanted to visit the Isle of Man, so what better way to do it than this!
‘I’ve heard so many amazing things about both the Island, and indeed the awards, so it really will be a privilege to be the guest of honour. I look forward to meeting and celebrating with everyone on 1 March!’
Ellie’s disability is classified as Achondroplasia dwarfism. She started swimming at the age of five, was competing against able-bodied children by the age of eight, and entered a British Swimming talent programme when she was 10. The following year, Ellie and her mother moved from Walsall to Swansea to take advantage of the city’s world class swimming pool.
Ellie will join a packed audience at the Isle of Man Sports Awards on Thursday 1 March 2018 at the Villa Marina, to celebrate the success of sports men and women at all levels in 2017.
Gary Corkhill, Executive Chairman, Isle of Man Sport said: ‘Ellie is an icon of British Sport and a true inspiration to us all, having competed at the very top of her chosen sport.
‘We are very excited that she is able to be with us on our special night, helping us celebrate the fantastic achievements of our Islands sportsmen and women.’
Nominations in 10 categories were invited from the Manx public in late December, and closed on 8 January.
Alongside the prestigious Sportsman, Sportswoman and Disability Sportsperson of the Year, there are accolades for an outstanding coach, team, veteran sportsperson, IOM ambassador, sports administrator and under-21 achievers.
Microgaming Play It Forward, the event’s new sponsor, will present the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards on the evening.