Paralympian Ellie Simmonds targeted by online abuse after Strictly performance
"It's sad and it does get to you."
Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds has shared that she has received cruel abuse online after making her Strictly Come Dancing debut on Saturday night.
Ellie, who has achondroplasia, was paired with Nikita Kuzmin and they danced the Cha Cha, receiving 26 points from the judges, an impressive score for the first week.
However, Ellie told The Sun that she was hit with ableist abuse online following Saturday's show.
"I've had it already," she said. "Some people have said, how's the dwarf going to dance?"
The five-time gold medalist added: "It's sad and it does get to you."
Ellie first competed in the Paralympics in Beijing in 2008 when she was just 13 years old, making her the youngest British athlete to take part at the time. She swam in the 50m, 100m, and 400m freestyle, as well as the 50m butterfly and the 200m Individual Medley. She took home the gold medal in the 100m and 400m events.
Four years later, in London, she won gold medals in the 400m freestyle and in the 200m individual medley. Then, at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, she won gold in the 200m individual medley. She also took home the bronze medal in the 400m freestyle.
Ellie competed in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics last year but missed out on a medal. She subsequently announced her retirement from the sport last September.
Prior to joining the Strictly Come Dancing lineup, Ellie said that dancing is completely out of her "comfort zone", but shared that she is inspired by previous disabled contestants on the show.
"I feel like, I’ve seen Rose do it last year, JJ, Lauren, and Johnny," she said. " I’ve had so many people reaching out, not just in the UK but worldwide like, 'Wow Ellie you’re doing this, you’re going to help us and represent us.' It’s a huge, huge honour."