As if training to qualify for the London 2012 Paralympic Games wasn’t enough of a challenge, double Paralympic gold medallist, Ellie Simmonds MBE, has now taken on the task of learning to drive as well. She has had her brand new, specially adapted, MINI One Hatch delivered and will be taking her first driving lessons in her new car. She received the car as part of MINI’s role as an official partner to ParalympicsGB and Team GB on their quest to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

17-year old swimmer, Ellie, was awarded her MBE at just 14 years old after winning two gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games, making her the youngest person ever to receive this honour. Currently living in  Walsall, Ellie spends weekdays training in Swansea and a considerable amount of time travelling between the two. To allow Ellie to make the most of her new car, the MINI’s interior has been redesigned to feature a false floor in the driver’s foot well and pedal extensions. She says she’s looking forward to having greater independence once she’s passed her test:

"I’m really enjoying being out on the road and my MINI is perfect – I can’t wait to pass my test! It will be really great to be able to drive myself around and the support is really helping me to do that.”

MINI is supporting Ellie as she steps up her training for London 2012, along with other British athletes, as part of the Performance Team initiative. Dealers like us are pairing up with local athletes to support their endeavours to qualify for Team GB or ParalympicsGB. Acting as the biggest fan for both teams, MINI hopes its support will help to inspire extraordinary performances.

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