Ellie Simmonds: 'Sport can take a backseat' during coronavirus pandemic

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds – one of Walsall’s most famous residents – said "sport can take a backseat" during the coronavirus pandemic.

The gold-medal winning swimmer who won medals at the Beijing, London and Rio Paralympics told ITV News she was disappointed her training for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has “gone out the window”.

The games were postponed by the International Olympic Committee in the wake of the pandemic until August 24 to September 5.

But Simmonds told ITV News Presenter Mary Nightingale: "Sport can take a back seat, we have seen that, not just the Olympics, and the Paralympics, but football, tennis, F1 all of that, it has taken a backseat.

"We have to make sure the population of humankind are safe, and I think next year it will be a year to remember, I've never known in my life, in my career, a games to be delayed or changed to another year.

"Next year I think it's going to be history making and to be part of that, it's pretty inspiring, its going to be an amazing year to remember, having the Olympics and Paralympics in 2021."

Simmonds said the spirit of community has shone through in her hometown of Walsall during the coronavirus pandemic and it has made her proud of where she is from.

The paralympian has been staying with her parents in Aldridge, Walsall, during the lockdown.

“I’m walking about once a day, and when I go out, everyone’s friendly, everyone’s sticking to the rules, being safe," she said.

“I think at the moment we’re all sticking together as a village, as a county, as a country, it’s great to see people being so positive, it’s really nice when I do walk and people say 'hello'.

"Everyone is looking out for each other and it makes you feel proud about where you’re from.”

The 25-year-old said it’s lovely to see the rainbows in people’s windows in Aldridge – illustrating the UK’s support for NHS workers.

Simmonds said: “Every Thursday night, everybody is out and about, saying thank you to the NHS and the key workers, and it’s all the little things like that bring the community together and is helping, not just the community, but the whole nation, tackle this thing."