TEENAGE Paralympic swimming sensation Eleanor Simmonds (pictured) today visited Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE from the Queen.
At just 13 Simmonds entered the history books as Britain's second youngest individual Paralympic or Olympic medallist when she won golds in the 100 and 400 metres freestyle in Beijing last year.
The teenager, now 14, is also the youngest person to receive an award in the New Year or Queen's Birthday Honours Lists, the previous was Michelle Lewis presented with an MBE in 2002 when aged 19 for charitable work in Merseyside.
The Swansea-based swimmer - who was born with achondroplasia or dwarfism - collected her award for services to disabled sport.
Simmonds said: "Last year was amazing, I will never forget it.
"But I still feel a normal person.
“Beijing was a bit of a surprise and I really went for the experience but I thought I could win something as I was going there as the world record holder in the 400m freestyle.
“But it’s a really good feeling getting the MBE, it’s good to know the Queen honours you and the country honours you.
“The Queen said ’well done’ and that winning the two gold medals was really good.
"Then she asked if she would see me next week at the Paralympic reception.”
Simmonds’ coach Billy Pye, who is British Swimming head disability coach, was also awarded an MBE for services to sport.
The 50-year-old saw eight of his swimmers scoop 13 medals including nine golds at the Beijing Paralympic Games.
Pye said the medal was reward for all the hard work he and the swimmers had put in.
He said: “Our motto is - coming second is not an option.
“Swimmers do a lot of work, two hours in the [pool in the] morning, two hours in the afternoon then in the gym seven days a week, it takes its toll.
"You have to have the backing of your family.
“The MBE is a great honour and is recognition for my family and it’s great not just for athletes with disabilities but sport in general.”
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS