A bronze medal for Eoghan Clifford in this evening’s C3 Individual Pursuit final rounded off a hugely successful second day for Team Ireland at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, which began with a historic treble for sprinter Jason Smyth when he secured gold in the T13 100m.
Clifford won bronze in a time of 3.40.201 this evening after an entertaining and competitive race-off against Canada’s Michael Sametz. Clifford qualified in fourth position for the medal race earlier today and despite a niggling knee problem, pulled out a 2.5 second lead on the younger Canadian rider, which he maintained for much of the race with Sametz closing the gap marginally in the closing lap.
While it wasn’t his best time, the effort netted the multiple World Champion his first Paralympic medal; “I didn’t really win that because I’ve better legs, I was in agony from the start with my knee and stuff, I won it because I felt I would let so many people down if I didn’t medal today. In training I’ve been very good in the first four laps, but the difference today was whereas normally from my fourth lap to my twelfth lap I don’t drop time, today I was eating time. And actually after four laps in the qualifier I thought I would break the Paralympic record, my legs just weren’t up to it. Great I had a buffer because my legs were in bits.”
It was also a busy evening in the pool for the Irish team, as the squad’s youngest member, 14-year-old Nicole Turner secured a phenomenal Personal Best in the S6 50m Butterfly final to finish fifth in a time of 37.31. A stunning performance from the talented Laois swimmer saw her take almost a second off her previous time in an event where Great Britain’s Ellie Robinson set a new Paralympic Record of 35.58 seconds.
Swimming in Lane 6, Turner looked very strong throughout but missed the medal by just 0.5 of a second. The teen sensation was delighted with her performance: “It’s amazing, when I saw the clock it was unbelievable that I took nearly a second off my best time. After watching London four years ago I never thought I’d be at the next Paralympic Games, it’s incredible.”
Turner returns to the pool in the morning for the S6 50m Freestyle heats.
Elsewhere at table tennis, although Rena McCarron Rooney suffered defeat at the hands of reigning Paralympic champion, Ling Jiu this morning, she bounced back in style in the evening session of the qualifiers, overcoming Jordan’s Maha Bargouthi to book her spot in Saturday’s quarter-finals, 11-3, 11-4, 11-8.
Speaking after the game, she said: “I am really delighted, I knew if I put in a performance like I did this morning, I knew I would get there. This morning performance, I did everything right, but she was just too strong for me. I knew if I kept the same game plan, same focus and same concentration. I was confident that I would do well.”
Earlier today, Jason Smyth won gold for Ireland to secure a historic treble in the T13 100m and confirming his reputation as the fastest Paralympian on the planet.
You can read a full round-up of this morning’s events here.