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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Frances Kindon & Freddie Bennett

Strictly: Ellie Simmonds shares baby dream and 'will love her child whatever'

Ellie Simmonds has been smashing it in the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom, delivering a series of powerful dances alongside pro partner Nikita Kuzmin.

But if it wasn't for her longtime boyfriend Matt Dean, Paralympic swimming champ Ellie might never have entered the competition to begin with.

When Ellie couldn't make her mind up, she said Matt's wise words were: "Go for it, you don't know unless you try."

The couple - who both have dwarfism - share an epic love story having first met as toddlers when Matt's mum was helping Ellie, 27, on her rise to sports stardom.

They got together later in life and bought their first house during the pandemic.

Ellie is paired with professional dancer Nikita on Strictly (PA)

"We've been together a couple of years and just bought a house in South Manchester," Ellie dished of their domestic bliss. "We lived together during lockdown in London, so have become very used to living with each other."

Matt also appeared in the audience on the show's launch night, marking their public debut.

The loved-up couple met through Matt's parents, Penny and Arthur Dean, who are pioneers in sports for people with dwarfism, and co-founded the Dwarf Sports Association, a charity that Ellie is now patron of.

It was Matt's parents who first introduced Ellie to swimming when she was just two years old, and gave the Paralympic superstar the tools and confidence to achieve her dreams.

"Penny is very confident, passionate and proud about who she is and that radiates," Ellie told The Sun of her mentor.

Now retired from competitive swimming, Ellie is looking to what comes next, and for her, that could be a family of her own.

Matt sat in the audience to support Ellie on the show's launch night (BBC)

"I would like to have children in the future," Ellie continued. As to whether the child would have dwarfism or be of average height, to the sports star it matters not a jot.

"What I do know is that I would love that child whatever, just as my parents loved me," she added.

Born with Achondroplasia - a form of dwarfism that results in an average size head and torso with short limbs - Ellie never wanted to change her 4ft height and credits the 'postive outlook' her average-height parents instilled in her.

From the age of two she was immersed in the dwarfism community, which made her feel 'included rather than different'. And it was through those connections that she met Penny and Arthur Dean, the founders of the Dwarf Sports Association.

They introduced her to swimming when she was just a toddler, and by the time she was eight, the sports star was competing against average-height children.

Ellie started swimming when she was just a toddler (DAILY MIRROR)

She won her first Paralympic medal at the 2008 Beijing games and became the youngest recipient of an MBE just 12 months later.

Earlier this year she fronted a BBC documentary, Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? which explored the clinical trials of a drug that could increase growth rate in children aged five to 18 with Ellie's condition.

To begin with, the star - along with many others - opposed it, fearing it would erase the dwarfism community.

And while making the documentary 'change her perception', she admitted she doesn't know if she'd choose it for her own child.

"I would probably say no - and the same goes for whether I would have chosen it for myself. If it was around then, my parents would not have chosen it for me either," she told The Sun.

When Ellie was a child, she was offered limb-lengthening treatment - an agonising series of procedures that involved breaking and stretching calf, thigh and arm bones over several years.

Ellie was born with dwarfism (DAILY MIRROR)

Those undergoing the process usually have a metal frame attached to the limb once the bone has been broken, which can be altered to stretch the bone by 1mm a day.

For Ellie, the option held no appeal.

"I remember as a kid, around the age of seven, I had to go to the hospital for check-ups and measurements every year," she continued.

"At the time, they suggested limb-lengthening, a procedure which many with dwarfism have. We discussed it and in the end we realised I was happy as I am — I can swim, I can run, why would I want to change?"

Strictly Come Dancing continues tonight at 6.50pm on BBC One

Who do you think will face the dance-off this week? Have your say in the comments section below...

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