AS WE BEGIN to wind down towards the end of the Paralympics on Sunday, it’s important to stand back and take note of our surroundings.
These Games have been an outrageous success story for Team Ireland and, on a rare day when we didn’t manage to claim a medal we shouldn’t get disheartened or start taking those glittery chunks of metal for granted.
What Firth, McDonald, Rohan, McKillop and Smyth have done to reach the absolute pinnacle of their sport is quite simply awesome, but the high level achieved by many of our athletes must also be recognised.
What we learned today
- Jason Smyth still has sustained velocity: Having taken gold in both 100 and 200m in 2008, all eyes were once again on the Derryman today. As usual, he delivered, setting the fastest qualifying time in the heats with his 21.48s sprint.
- Matt Cowdrey has a gold medal for every month of the year. The Australian swim sensation brought the dozen up yesterday in the 50m free and – as the enormity of the achievement sank in – endured a sleepless night before collecting it today.
- Jacqueline Freney is right on his tail. Cowdrey’s compatriot brought up her seventh gold of these Paralympic Games. Seven.
- Jonnie Peaock is a boss. His 10.90s sprint for gold in the T44 set the Stadium alight tonight.
Other news from Team Ireland
Aside from Jason Smyth it was largely a day of disappointment. In Boccia, Johnny Cronin came up against Singapore’s Nurul Taha (who he had beaten yesterday) only to be picked apart by a masterful display and lose 7-1.
If the wind was knocked out of his sails, the same can be said quite literally about John Twomey, Anthony Hegarty and Ian Costelloe. The team ended up in 11th place as the event was cancelled due to lack of wind today. One team happy to see the race come to a close were the Netherlands who claimed gold.
In the pool, Ellen Keane produced some excellent splits and a brilliant start to her 200m medley. The Dublin swimmer was in third place at the halfway point but ultimately ran out of steam and took seventh with a time of 2:42:21.
Staying with swimming, Bethany Firth has been withdrawn from tomorrow morning’s 100m breaststroke due to a shoulder injury. The 16-year-old claimed Ireland’s first gold of the games in the 100m backstroke last week, but since has pulled out of the 200m free.
Another competitor forced to withdraw today was Enda Smith. Smith was due to compete in the Cycling C 4-5 road race, but pulled out on doctors orders. Colin Lynch did start the race but suffered a crash on the first corner and did not finish.
Villain of the day
Brazilian power-lifter Bruno Pinheiro Carra has tested positive for banned diuretics. He’s chalked it down to his green tea brand of choice, but his nine month ban will stand.
You said what?
“We’ll take it to another level against Brazil. We have the best group of people in this team — we’re a strong unit.”
France’s blind football captain Frederic Villeroux psyches his team up for the final.
Jason, your country needs number seven.