Rio Olympics

Disappointment for Deirdre Mongan at Rio Paralympics

Deirdre Mongan in action during Monday's women's shot put F53 final at the Olympic Stadium in Rio
Picture by Sportsfile 
Malcolm McCausland

THERE was disappointment for Newcastle-based Deirdre Mongan on the fifth day of the Paralympics in Rio. Mongan had been hoping to take a medal in the F53 shot putt but had to settle for fifth in temperatures into the low 30s celsius.

The Galway native’s best throw of 4.04m was well below her best and no match for the winner Fatema Nedham from Bahrain who heaved the shot a massive 4.78m to take the gold. The Irish woman, who took a bronze medal in the Europeans this summer, fouled her first throw before getting in a legal 4.04m on her second attempt. 

That unfortunately was to prove to be her best effort of the competition for the 38-year-old mother-of-one and well short of her 4.26m personal best. Mongan has been in a wheelchair since the age of 14 following an accident at a farmhouse. The nature of the spinal cord injury she suffered not only meant she is paralysed from the waist down but also that her body is unable to regulate its temperature and prevent overheating in hot conditions.

“That performance today was not what I was hoping for,” said Mongan.

“I don’t know what happened. I’ve been throwing much better in training, I don’t know if it was nerves or heat, or a combination of everything. It just didn’t go for me. When I got on the frame I just felt there was nothing in my arms. I can’t really explain it. I was way off the best. I’m just disappointed I didn’t perform more than anything else.”

Kildare man Sean Baldwin never recovered from a slow start in the 50m three-position shooting event, missing out on a final place after finishing 20th. Baldwin was 22nd after the opening series of kneeling rounds, but moved up to 19th with a good performance in the prone leg of the competition. 

The Newbridge rifleman was unable to make up any further ground in the final series in the standing position: “I’m disappointed,” Baldwin said. 

“Conditions were perfect but I had a bad start in the kneel.”

Sailors John Twomey, Austin O’Carroll and Ian Costello were in action in the first race of the Sonar class and were sixth through the first mark before slipping back to 11th. The Irish trio managed to claw their way back up to 10th before the finish line as the Australia crew took the victory. With the Paralympic sailing follow the same pattern as those at the Olympics, points are earned in 10 races before a final medal race.

There was mixed luck for the two Irish swimmers in the pool on Monday. Nicole Turner was eighth fastest in SM6 200m individual medley heat to qualify for the final: “The swim was amazing. I’ve started getting into it now, into the rhythm of it,” said Turner who had already competed in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly finals.

“I’m really excited for the final.”

James Scully exited the S5 50m Freestyle competition after finishing tenth in the heats despite clocking a new personal best: “I’m very happy with that - I took 0.6 of a second off [his PB] so in a 50 freestyle to take anything more than half a second is brilliant,” said the 23-year-old Meath man. 

“This sets me up very nicely for Saturday and the 100 freestyle.”

On Sunday night, 20-year-old Seaforde swimmer Bethany Firth picked up a second gold medal in winning the S14 200m freestyle final with a new Games record. The Ards Swim Club member clocked 2:03.30 to finish ahead of Great Britain team-mate Jessica-Jane Applegate.

“I’m so thankful it all came together. I wasn’t feeling well this morning but Team GB got me up and going again,” said Firth after clinching her second gold medal of the Games.

Firth opened her account last Thursday when she broke the world record twice on her way to the gold in 100m backstroke. She will now try to add to her medal haul in the 100m breaststroke and 200m individual medley events later in the week.

The Co Down woman competes in the S14 classes, for competitors with an intellectual disability, although she represented Northern Ireland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Ballymena 16-year-old Katie Morrow played a pivotal role, scoring six points as Great Britain’s wheelchair team coasted to an easy 63-32 win over hosts Brazil. 

Great Britain now plays China in the quarter-finals of the tournament on Tuesday night.

 

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