Chain trouble costs Eoghan Clifford another medal
The clouds came in over Rio de Janeiro for the ninth day of competition at the Paralympics.
The weather seemed to prelude a grey day for the Irish competitors with sheer bad luck costing one of them what would an historic third medal of the Games.
As it is the Ireland total remains four gold, three silver and two bronze medals with just two days of competition remaining.
Cyclist Eoghan Clifford was desperately unlucky not to add to his gold and bronze medals earlier this week when he finished fifth in the C1-2-3 Road Race.
Clifford entered the home straight with the lead group but had the misfortune to have his chain come off just as the finish sprint kicked off.
The Galway man was in the leading group of six that had detached itself from the field at the end of the first lap, coming through 24 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
That lead group had slimmed down to five at the end of second lap with Clifford doing his share of the work at the front.
He continued to force the pace on the last lap in an attempt to get rid of the sprinters but never quite managed to make the decisive break.
Unfortunately when it came down to a sprint on the final straight, the slipped chain meant that Clifford had no answer to the finishing speed of Germany’s Steffen Warias, who went on to take the gold medal from Kris Bosmans of Belgium and Italian Fabio Anobile.
Clifford’s disappointment and anger were evident as he crossed the finishing line thumping his handlebars some 10 seconds outside the medals.
However, when he has had time to reflect, he will have to be content with his week’s work that included a bronze in the track pursuit and an impressive gold medal performance in the road time trial.
“I’m very disappointed because I did everything right,” said the 36-year-old.
“We had it whittled down to five and I was in a very good position for the sprint. I’m sure I would have had a medal of some sort but my chain came off 200m from the line when I started my sprint.
“These things happen I guess. I did everything I could today. There was a lot of attacking but I was in there all the way. I felt good, I could have done a good sprint, it’s hard to know now but that’s life.”
Colin Lynch won a silver in the time trial on Wednesday but the 45-year-old Canadian-born cyclist had to settle for 24th, 11 minutes behind Clifford, on this occasion.
Lynch is in the C2 category and was always going to find it tough going in the mixed classification event against riders less impaired than him.
Another Irish medallist Ellen Keane was back in the pool. The Dubliner took the bronze in the SB8 100m Breaststroke on Wednesday night and reached her fourth final of the
Games when she finished third in her heat of the S9 100m Backstroke. Her time of 1:15.44 was a personal best and saw her qualify comfortably as one of the fastest eight who went forward to the final.
Sailors John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O’Carroll were 11th in the penultimate race of the Sonar class. That keeps them in 11th overall and, even discarding their worst two results, will finish in the bottom third of the 14 crews.
It was the end of a dream for Kells schoolgirl Katie Morrow who was part of the Great Britain Wheelchair team that lost the bronze medal play-off to the Netherlands.
The British never recovered from a disastrous first quarter where they scored only four points to the Dutch women’s 17.
Morrow played well when she came off the bench but the demoralised British team ended up on the wrong side of a 76-34 thrashing.
The GB squad can take some consolation from giving the USA a close game in the semi-finals and achieving its best ever Olympic placing with the youngest squad in the competition.
Late on Thursday, Niamh McCarthy took the second discus silver medal of the day for Ireland when she finished runner-up in the F41 competition.
McCarthy emulated fellow Cork woman Orla Barry’s earlier in the day when her best throw of 26.67m was enough to claim the silver medal behind Tunisia’s Raoua Tlili who shattered the World record with a throw of 33.38m.
It was a remarkable performance from the 23-year-old who was appearing at her first Paralympic Games and vindication of Paralympics Ireland engaging the services of a top class Throws coach in the person of Derry man David McCarthy.
McCarthy claimed bronze at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha last year and went one better with a silver medal at the IPC European Championships this summer.
“I’m over the moon,” said the Carrigaline woman. “It’s my first Games and I’m coming home with exactly what I wanted. I wanted that silver. I fought hard for it and I’m so proud that I got it. I didn’t even throw my best. I’ve thrown further but that’s all I needed to do today. I performed and did what I needed to do to get that medal.”
Oscar Pistorius lost his Paralympic 400m record when New Zealand’s Liam Malone took gold in Rio on Thursday. Pistorius was once the pin up boy of the Paralympic movement but he is now languishing in a South African jail after being convicted of the Valentine’s Day murder in 2013 of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
The 22-year-old Kiwi won in 46.20 seconds to erase Pistorius, who won the event in London, from the record books. Earlier Malone took silver in the 100m behind Great Britain’s Jonnie Peacock and gold over 200m when he also beat a Pistorius record.