Arlen cleared to face Simmonds

  • Last Updated: September 1 2012, 15:29 BST

The showdown between Ellie Simmonds and Victoria Arlen in the S6 400 metres freestyle will go ahead tonight after the International Paralympic Committee confirmed the American's eligibility to compete.

Ellie Simmonds: Made impressive start to her campaign

Earlier this week Arlen's participation had been thrown into doubt when she was deemed ineligible and excluded from London 2012.

The United States' appeal to the IPC was upheld and the 17-year-old was reinstated on Thursday.

In a two-stage process, Arlen passed an initial assessment but she was also observed during racing today.

Following that, the IPC confirmed she was to continue to be classified as an S6 swimmer in her freestyle events with a review in a year's time.

A swimmer's classification can change for different strokes because the nature of their impairment may affect their ability to perform a particular stroke.

This applies to Arlen who competes in the SB5 class in breaststroke in which she will continue to be observed.

An IPC statement read: "IPC Swimming can confirm that following this morning's heat in the Aquatics Centre the USA's Victoria Arlen will continue to compete in the S6 class with a review date set for August 2013.

"Due to the different technicality of stroke required in breaststroke a similar observation in competition will take place in her first SB race."

For Arlen there will no doubt be enormous relief while the crowd at the Aquatics Centre could well be treated to a battle royale after the evidence of this morning's heats.

Simmonds produced a blistering five minutes 24.64 seconds, just 0.18 seconds outside the world record Arlen set in June at the US trials.

The American then put the doubt surrounding her to one side to qualify second fastest in 5:25.19, 0.55secs behind Simmonds.

After an emotional few days, Arlen deserves credit for such a swim in what is her Paralympic debut.

She said: "It has been a rollercoaster but I have an incredible Team USA that has been supporting me.

"But it is what it is, it comes with the sport and I am just happy to be here, happy to swim and happy to represent my country.

"I'm ready to go always.

"I was nervous and I was shaking all over and just went out there and was like 'I'm here'."

Of the circumstances surrounding Arlen, Simmonds said: "I've been aware of it, I've just had to focus on myself, I can't control her.

"At the start of the week she was an S6 and now she is an S6.

"It is good that now she is an S6 it is going to give me someone to race and she is going to push me to my limits and the best of my ability and I am really excited for that."

While the Walsall-athlete had some sympathy for her rival, there was no chance of it distracting her.

"She is a really nice girl and before we went in to race I wished her luck and she did as well.

"I do (have some sympathy) but we are competitors and rivals.

"So I just want to control the controllables and control myself."

She added: "It's going to be a very tough but very exciting race but I am looking forward to it."