IN SWELTERING heat and drenching humidity Gary O’Reilly secured a bronze for Ireland in the men’s H5 time trial at the Fuji International Speedway.
The Portlaoise hand-cyclist set 39:36.46 to take third place in a hard fought event around the famous motor racing circuit in the rolling foothills below Mount Fuji. Dutch rider Mitch Valize took the win with 38:12.94 while French rider 39:15.16 took silver. It was a difficult race with the early stages of the Time Trial seeing Gary lose time as the splits came in but he worked through each pedal revolution and clawed back onto the podium as the kilometres ticked by to give Ireland it’s latest medal.
Immediately after the race Gary said “I’m completely shocked to be honest – didn’t expect to get the medal. I’m just absolutely delighted.
“I am so happy to have done it for everyone at home – I did for them. All my family, my wife Hazel, are up watching it, I’m sure they’re as happy as I am.”
“I think I was 20 seconds down on podium on first lap but I had Neill (Delahaye – coach) in my ear telling me to stick to the plan.
“I realised we just needed to stay with the plan, I came back up on time then with the second lap – started putting time into them. Thankfully it worked,” he said.
Gary explained the difficult weather and the impact on his ability to perform.
“There are really difficult conditions here, push through our (heart and power) zones and then recover on the downhill.
“The climate might have caught people out, it is very humid and hot. It was all about a real pacing strategy race today – so that you don’t burn up too quickly,” he added.
The sacrifices of the athletes are a constant theme here at the Paralympic Games in Japan and Gary explained how that has affected him.
“As my friends all know, I don’t get to spend as much time with them – like when they’re going out for a pint.
“You don’t get to go out so you spend a lot of time in the room at home alone on a turbo trainer for four or five hours on a turbo trainer. It is all worth it on a day like today,” he said.
Gary will line out in the road race tomorrow morning and he is anxious to recover as he pursues his second medal of the Games.
“Just want to go in and try and recover as best I can. We’re up early in the morning, so I’ll try and stick with it and do my best and see what happens at the end of the race.
Richael Timothy had been the first of the Irish to experience competing on the Fuji International Speedway. The young Paralympian competed in the C3 Time Trial but she found the circuit to be a gruelling opponent. Richael battled gamely throughout and recorded a time of 30:55.24 to finish in 14th place overall.
After the race Richael said “It was really hard to be honest. Just I found it so tough, not even the hilly parts but the technical parts. For me my right side is so much weaker, so when I’m going I kind of, not panicked, but I went to use my right hand the way I used to use it to and it caused a bit of a slip.
I had to slow down a bit in the bends, just be cautious going into them to keep upright. It is the hardest TT I have ever done. I pushed so hard today, and that’s what I wanted to do – just leave it all out there – I feel like I did that.
That was the hardest race I’ve done – I looked down at one point and my heart rate was 200 – I went as hard as I could.”
Orla Comerford was the sole member of Team Ireland to compete at the Olympic Stadium today as she competed in the 3rd heat of the T13 100m. Orla faced a very strong field and new that to qualify she would need to break her personal best. She crossed the link in 4th position with a time of 12.87 which meant that she did not progress to the finals this evening. However, speaking after the race she revealed the difficulties that she has head whilst preparing for today’s event;
“Today the goal unfortunately wasn’t time and progressing through, it was when I got on the plane to Tokyo, and it was, in our opinion, a very realistic and achievable goal to be making that final and being competitive in it. You know, the expectation for this games have shifted an number of times this year with injury and we’ve had to adapt to those changes and unfortunately one of them came on the last day of training camp in Narita where I sustained a small tear in my quad so for me the last couple of weeks have been all about being in a position where I could go out and line up on the track, I knew there was no way that I could be realistically competitive and pushing for the times I would have expected from myself a month ago so, unfortunately, that was the reality today so the goal after that happened was to line up, to be there, to race, to cross the finish line and to be honest I wasn’t even sure that would happen.”
“Lining up was incredibly important for me with losing my coach, Brian Corcoran, two weeks ago. I saw him the day I left and I know that he was incredibly proud of me being here and being on the plane so for me it was about lining up and being there and I think he was with me every step of the way. To his family who have been so incredibly strong and so incredibly kind, I’m sure this has been an incredibly difficult time for them, it’s been a very difficult time for all of us, it was really hard being here by myself, I was lonely not being at home with the Raheny Shamrocks gang and his family and everything like that but I know that, at the end of the day, this is where he wanted me to be, he told me as much and so mu goal was to be out there and, while I knew I couldn’t make him proud with the times and the performance I hoped that he would be proud of my resilience and my drive to be out there on the starting line.”
Still to come today are the brilliant tandem duo of Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal who already have a silver medal to their names and will be very hopeful of adding to their haul today. Ronan Grimes has narrowly missed out on a medal on the track and will also be returning to action later this morning.
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Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Day 7 Results
C3 Time Trial Final, Richael Timothy, 30:55.24, 14th
H5 Time Trial, Gary O’Reilly, 39:36.46, 3rd, Bronze Medal
T13 100m Heat, Orla Comerford, 12.87, 4th
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Day 7 Schedule
06:11am, C4 Time Trial, Ronan Grimes
06:50am, B Time Trial, Katie George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Day 8 Schedule
02:13am, SM9 200m Individual Medley Heat, Barry McClements
02:22am, SM9 200m Individual Medley Heat, Ellen Keane
02:40am, SB13 100m Breaststroke Heat, Róisín Ní Riain
01:30-03:38am, H5 Road Race, Gary O’Reilly
03:30-04:00, SH2 R5, Philip Eaglesham
01:34am, F41 Discus, Niamh McCarthy
*10:30am, SM9 200m Individual Medley Final, Barry McClements (subject to qualification)
*10:40am, SM9 200m Individual Medley Final, Ellen Keane (subject to qualification)
*11:09, SB13 100m Breaststroke Final, Róisín Ní Riain (subject to qualification)
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Day 9 Schedule
01:07am, S6 400m Freestyle Heat, Patrick Flanagan
01:36am, S8 100m Butterfly Heat, Barry McClements
02:00am, Men’s KL3 Canoe Heat, Pat O’Leary
03:30am, Men’s VL3 Canoe Heat, Pat O’Leary
*09:22am, S8 100m Butterfly Final, Barry McClements (Subject to Qualification)