Duncan Mackay

One of the best things about last year’s Paralympic Games was the incredible support from the British public. They really like their sport!
It’s over a year now since Beijing and yet I still get stopped by strangers. This morning, for example, after training, I was shopping in Swansea, where I’ve moved to from Walsall, when a lady came up to me and said, "Are you the girl who got those two medals?"

Just knowing how much people support me and other Paralympians makes me want to try harder.

Recently training has been increased because we’ve been getting ready for the European Championships in Reykjavik, Iceland, next month.

It won’t be my first race since Beijing. I’ve already had quite a few including the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, in May, where I set a new world record in the 100 metres freestyle.

It was really good to swim in front of such a huge home crowd and it made me realise what the atmosphere will be like in London in three years time. When I was in Beijing seeing so many British fans cheering all of us on made me want to swim fast for them.

Although training’s been hard I did take a short break a few weeks ago to make a special visit to the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London so I could see how much progress has been made on the Aquatics Centre.  It also reminded me that it’s now less than three years to go to the start of the Paralympic Games.

I really was amazed at how big the framework for the Centre is and at how cool the wave like roof is which is nearly finished. I took lots of pictures to show my friends back in Swansea and to motivate me in the years ahead.

If the last year is anything to go by, the next three will pass very quickly. I hope the new Aquatics Centre is going to be the place where I might get a few more Paralympic medals.

I was so excited to see it and now I can imagine what it will be like to swim in and the noise the home crowd are going to make.

I know I’ve got a lot of competitions to do between now and London 2012 but I really can’t wait.
I’ll be working really hard to qualify for the Paralympic Games and then I’ll decide on my goals nearer the time.

In the mean time I’d like to be a role model, not just for future Paralympians but for all kids. I know that when I watched the Athens Paralympics on TV in 2004 it really inspired me. And now I want to do that for others.

They don’t necessarily have to become Paralympians it would just be good if they got into playing sport and had fun at the same time. If they did become Paralympians that would be great but if they didn’t it’s just important they enjoy doing sport.

I know I do. And it’s only going to get better as we get nearer to 2012. There are going to be more and more people I meet in the street who really are behind the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and proud they are going to take place here at home.

Eleanor Simmonds won gold medals in the 100 and 400 metres freestyle  S6 category at the Paralympics in Beijing despite being at 13 the youngest member of Britain's team. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Years Honours List, at 14 the youngest-ever recipient of the Honour, and was voted the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. She is now training for the London 2012 Paralympics.