Mike RowbottomBefore Ellie Simmonds swims her big races she listens to the Eminem song Lose Yourself.

The lyrics include these lines: "Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip? You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo..."

Shortly after taking silver in the 100 metres freestyle S6 (pictured below) behind her big American rival and fellow 17-year-old, Victoria Arlen, the Briton, who had already established herself as the home poster girl of the London Paralympics, reflected upon her overall performance here after a Games which has seen her win two golds in world-record times and an additional bronze.

She had failed to seize everything she wanted in this one moment. She had failed to capture a third gold, letting it slip. But – emphatically – she had not missed her chance to blow.

And as for it being the opportunity of a lifetime – well, she is already talking animatedly about next year's World Championships and indeed the 2016 Rio Paralympics where the rivalry with Arlen could continue to compel attention.

"My coach and I always say that you only get one chance, so you have to get your head down and go for it," she said. "I would have loved to get the gold medal but you can't have everything. I have been on the podium for every race at these Games so I can't ask for any more.

Ellie Simmonds_8_Sept
"I want to go away and chill for a while with my family and friends and then start training for the World Championships next year.

"As for Rio – you never know about injuries, and I have my education to think about, too. But I would love to go to Rio; that's my aim, although you never know.

"Victoria is 17, the same age as me, and I am sure we can push each other even further at the World Championships, and if I go to Rio and she goes to Rio."

Simmonds, whose family home is in Walsall but who lives and trains with coach Billy Pye in Swansea – with her parents boxing and coxing to make that possible – competed in what has now become, for her, a familiar patriotic din as a near-capacity crowd willed her to round off her London Games with another winning flourish.

She finished in 1min 14.82sec, a personal best by more than a second and just 0.08 off the world record set by Arlen in qualifying.

Eminen Lose_Yourself_8_Sept
Arlen, however, with her longer body and more languorous stroke, lowered that mark to 1:13.33 as she established a commanding halfway lead and then maintained her position despite a frantic final 50 metres which saw the Briton closing on her.

Immediately after the race Simmonds told Channel 4: "I'm just really chuffed. A pb by over a second. I gave it everything on that last 50 metres. I could see her but I just didn't have anything left."

It is not just success in the pool which has established Simmonds in such a position of esteem, but her positive, down-to-earth manner. Asked if, having added two golds now to the two she won as a 13-year-old at the Beijing Games, she felt it would be possible to challenge the total of 11 golds earned by British wheelchair racer Tanni Grey-Thompson, she was clearly uncomfortable with such chat.

"I'm not like Tanni Grey-Thompson," she retorted. "I don't think about getting 11 golds. I take things as they come. I've got my own goals and I do the best I can."

There was similar awkwardness, too, when the topic was raised of what she might now expect from the New Year Honours List having become the youngest person to receive the MBE at the age of 14.

"After Beijing I was honoured to get the MBE but I haven't thought about anything like that here," she responded. "I have got two golds, a silver and a bronze, and I think that's the main thing for me."

Victoria Arlen_8_Sept
Arlen (pictured above) was allowed to race against Simmonds after avoiding being reclassified by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in the run-up to the Games.

The IPC initially ruled that the American, who was left in a vegetative state for two years after contracting a neurological virus that affected her spinal cord, was ineligible to compete alongside Simmonds in the S6 class – for swimmers with a short stature, amputations of both arms or moderate co-ordination problems on one side of their body.

But Arlen successfully appealed, and what looks likely to be an enduring rivalry was set in motion.

Simmonds told Channel 4 that "Beijing is always going to be the best Games for me" but by the time she spoke to the written press she had modified that opinion, ranking the home Games, at which she had been able to see so much of her friends and family, as being on a par.

"This Games has been amazing," she said. "I don't want it to end but it is ending and I'm just looking forward to celebrating now."

That is something this shining talent richly deserves. The final gold may have slipped by, but she has already captured an esteem that is profoundly more important than a medal.

Mike Rowbottom, one of Britain's most talented sportswriters, has covered the past five Summer and four Winter Olympics for The Independent. Previously he has worked for the Daily Mail, The Times, The Observer, the Sunday Correspondent and The Guardian. He is now chief feature writer for insidethegames.