Ronan Grimes produced another Personal Best performance at the Izu velodrome but missed out on a bronze medal by the narrowest of margins after a wonderful performance in Tokyo.
It was a busy day in Tokyo for Team Ireland with athletes competing in Para Cycling, Para Table Tennis, Para Equestrian, Para Archery, Para Swimming and, in the evening, the Para Athletics team got their campaigns underway.
Richael Timothy was first onto the velodrome this morning and, as she has done all week, she produced another immense performance to record yet another personal best. This time it was in the C1-C3 500m Time Trial where the woman from the Roscommon and Galway border produced her best ever time. Her time of 42.485 took nearly a full second off her best time prior to the games and was good enough for a 10th place finish. Richael will now turn her attention to the road where she will hope that more fast times are to follow “I came to the track to do PB’s, just go faster than I have gone before. I have done that. It is nice to get that over with and I can focus on the road now.
Ronan Grimes was the next Irish Paracyclist on track and, just like Richael, he recorded a PB in the C4 Individual pursuit heat with a time of 4:37.693 in the qualifier. That result qualified Ronan for the next round and a chance to race for a bronze medal. It was to be a familiar foe in that medal race for Grimes in the shape of Colombian, Diego German Duenas. Unfortunately, it was to be a bridge too far for the Galwegian as Duenas shaded the race. Despite the disappointment Grimes was still upbeat after again lowering his personal best performance with a time of 4:37.001 and an overall fourth placed finish. “He has a little acceleration at the end that I am lacking. I have come fourth against Diego in I don’t know how many races. The two of us are always battling on the road and the track. Disappointing to come out the wrong side of it. But I have to be happy with two PBs, especially in a ride off, when there’s a bit of pressure there for a medal. If I had gone slower I would have said I did wrong but everything I had was out there.”
After the highs of last night’s swimming performances it was back down to work for rising star Róisín Ní Riain who was the sole Irish competitor in action at the Aquatics Centre. As has been the case in all of the young Limerick woman’s events it was to be another final in the S13 400m Freestyle after she qualified from her group in third place. Ní Riain has created a lot of buzz with a string of excellent finals performances and she has maintained that standard after coming home in 5th place with a brilliant 4:43.09. The 3 time finalist is now looking forward to her first day off of Tokyo 2020 “I’m going to sleep, sleep and eat and rest and recover and get ready to go again!”
Kerrie Leonard began her campaign in the Archery under the blistering Tokyo Sun at the Yumenoshima Ranking Field. Despite searing 35 degree heat and suffocating humidity Meath archer Kerrie Leonard finished in 18th place in the ranking round of the Women’s Individual Compound Open. She held her form impressively in such conditions to score a season best of 657 (out of a possible 720) and was more accurate in the second half, scoring 324 before the break and 355 after it. Her best ends were the eighth and ninth where she scored 56 and 58 respectively and the latter included three of her 24 ‘10s’. She now moves into the head-to-head round on Sunday where she will first face India’s Jyoti Jyoti who finished 15th in today’s ranking with a score of 671. After making her debut at this level 30-year-old Kerrie said: “It is a surreal statement to say I’m finally a Paralympian. It feels amazing to be able to put that moniker on myself now. I was hesitant to use it before today in case anything happened to rule me out so I’m just delighted now to have started.
“I was hoping for better so I’m a little bit disappointed with the scores. I had a bad first end. I had a slight technical issue that I couldn’t solve until I finished that end, but as soon as that happened the shots started to go where I wanted them.
“After my first World Championship my coach said ‘that’s the best you’ve scored in a World Championship’ so I’m going to take the same attitude with this – that’s the best score I’ve ever shot at a Paralympic Games.
“I really like the head-to-heads. You’ve got to get every single shot right. When you’re shooting a long competition with 72 arrows like this you can sometimes go into cruise control. The head-to-head is a much shorter format and you are forced to be on the top of your game so it really calls you out mentally.”
Colin Judge saw his Paralympic Games come to an end against familiar opposition in Vladimir Toporkov of the Russian Paralympic Committee. The Russian player, who defeated Colin in the qualifier tournament, showed dremdous strength and determination as he vocally celebrated every point he won from the first to last shot of the game. Judge struggled to deal with the intensity early on and fell to a two set deficit before he had a chance to settle in. However, he found that form in the third set and played some wonderful table tennis to clinch that set by 11 points to 3 to give himself a chance. At one stage in the fourth set he led by 5 points to 1 but Toporkov found his rythm again and steadily clawed back points until they were level on 10 points each with the Russian taking the final two points of the match to win 3-1.
After the match Judge was clearly disappointed but proud of his efforts “I think there’s a lot of positives, they’d be the main things that I’d really take away from the Games is that I really have the ability to play at the top level. You know under such pressure I coped very well with the nerves, the big arena, the lights, the red floor, the people watching, I think I coped very well with that. I made a lot of adjustments to my game since I was reclassified and they are working, I just need to fine tune a few little things I think. I made a couple of mistakes maybe that I wouldn’t have done before bit it’s only because I am trying to be better, trying to challenge myself and show what I can do.”
There was action also in the Equestrian Park where Ireland’s Para Equestrian team members Michael Murphy and Kate Kerr Horan both made their paralympic debuts. Michael Murphy was the first in action on board of Clever Boy. Michael showed some nice moments during his performance but was unfortunately not able to bring his best display to the arena with him. He finished off with a score of 61. 429% and despite his disappointment he was still positive “‘It’s such an honour to be here, the journey to get here has been incredible, and while I’m disappointed I really believe this is just the start of the journey for us.”
Kate Kerr Horan and Serafina T competed in Class 3 of the Para Dressage competition where they enjoyed a very positive experience on the biggest stage that Para Dressage has to offer. Although she was hit with a late penalty to finish in 18th place with a final score of 56.470. ‘The day we left, all down our road was lined with our neighbours wishing me good luck. Usually when we go away to a competition we go and come back and no one knows so that meant so much to me. It was then that it really hit me just how much going to a Paralympics means.’
Great Streimikyte brought the day to a close for Team Ireland as she got the athletics programme underway. Streimikyte eased through to the final of the T13 1500m in a time of 4:45.98 to finish second in her heat and second overall. Streimiyte now has a final to look forward to tomorrow at 11:10am where she will have a real chance of delivering Ireland’s first athletics medal.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Team Ireland Results Day 3
S13, 400m Freestyle Heat, Róisín Ní Riain, 4:45.14
S13, 400m Freestyle Final, Róisín Ní Riain, 4:44.09
Women’s Individual Compound Open, Ranking, Round, Kerrie Leonard, 657 points
C1-C3 500m Time Trial, Richael Timothy, 42.485 (PB)
MC4, 4000m Individual Pursuit Heat, Ronan Grimes 4:37.693 (PB)
MC4, 4000m Individual Pursuit Final, Ronan Grimes 4:37.001 (PB)
Class 3, Round of 16, Colin Judge, (1-3)
Grade 1, Individual Test, Final, Michael Murphy, 61.429%
Grade 3, Individual Test, Final, Kate Kerr Horan, 56.470% (10% penalty)
T13 1500m Heat, Greta Streimikyte, 4:45.98 (2nd) Qualified for Final
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Team Ireland Schedule Day 4
SB6, 100m Breaststroke Heat, Nicole Turner, 01:07am
B3000m Individual Pursuit, Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal, 02:00am
B1000m Time Trial Final, Martin Gordon & Eamon Byrne, 03:08am
Grade 1-V, Team Test to Music 09:00am
T13 1500m Final, Greta Streimikyte, 11:10
* B3000m Individual Pursuit Final, Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal, 03:47am
* SB6, 100m Breaststroke Final, Nicole Turner, 09:07