Rainham teen wins silver medal in Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Ellie Challis celebrates Silver in the Women's 50m Backstroke - S3 during the Swimming at the Tokyo

Ellie Challis celebrates silver in the women's 50m backstroke - S3 during the swimming at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in Japan. Picture date: Sunday August 29, 2021. - Credit: PA

A teenager who grew up in Rainham and lost all of her limbs to meningitis as a baby is now representing Great Britain in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.  

Ellie Challis, 17, is the youngest member of Great Britain's Paralympic team and in a video for the games said she was “born a fighter” and will be battling for the medals in Tokyo.  

Already creating waves with her Paralympic debut, Ellie has secured a silver medal in the S3 women’s 50m backstroke final on Sunday (August 29).  

Tomorrow (Thursday, September 2), Ellie will compete in the S4 women’s 50m freestyle just after 3pm. 

Having trained since the age of eight, Ellie is determined to overcome adversity and has an attitude her father Paul, 57, described as believing "there’s always a way of doing something”.  

In an interview with The Sun, Paul explained how Ellie was given "just a five per cent chance of living” when she was 16-months-old and "in the grip of meningitis".  

“She actually died for two minutes. Her heart stopped,” he told that newspaper. “We were in the room when she was flat-lining. It was that close.” 

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Although Ellie pulled through, septicaemia set in and she had to have a six-hour operation to remove all of Ellie’s limbs in 2005.  

However, despite all of the challenges, Paul recalls Ellie as being a ”little bugger, in the nicest possible way” and a “happy-go-lucky girl”.  

Great Britain's Ellie Challis during the Women's 50m Breaststroke SB3 Heat 2 during day seven of the

Great Britain's Ellie Challis during the women's 50m breaststroke SB3 heat two during day seven of the World Para Swimming Allianz Championships at The London Aquatic Centre, London. - Credit: PA

He added: “She got her first set of £20,000 prosthetic legs when she was three, funded by generous friends and neighbours in Rainham, who would post cash through Paul’s letterbox.” 

Paul said he will be an “absolute wreck” watching Ellie, adding: “I couldn’t be prouder of everything she’s achieved."

Ellie spoke to The Sun to say she will do her best and “enjoy every minute”.  

She added: “My dad thought I’d never walk again. Now I’m representing my country at the Paralympics.

Ellie told BBC Sport: “Sport, for me, was the way to be involved with people. Everyone assumes you can’t do a lot until they actually meet you.” 

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