Curtain comes down on Tokyo 2020
After 12 days of competition and five years of preparation Team Ireland’s involvement at Tokyo 2020 has come to an end on the final day of the Paralympic Games.
A TOP 12 place for Patrick Monahan in the T54 marathon brought Team Ireland’s involvement in the Paralympic Games to an end in the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo today. The 35-year-old from Kildare, classified as T53 but racing against mostly T54 athletes, finished in 12th in a time of 1:32.54, four places higher than his Paralympic debut in Rio five years ago and in very different conditions.
The Caragh man had done meticulous preparation in heat chambers for the expected heat but the race, which started at 6:30am locally, was played out in heavy rain and weather that was much more like home. Defending champion Marcel Hug and China’s Jong Zhang had a terrific tussle at the front before the Swiss superstar pulled away with just 2km remaining to win in one hour 24:02 minutes, winning his fourth gold medal of these Games. Zhang took silver in a personal best of 1:24.22 and America’s Daniel Romanchuck got away from a four-man chasing group to win bronze in 1:29.05. With most of the world’s big city marathons cancelled over the past two years due to COVID-19, it was a first race for Monahan in two years and he admitted that had made him very nervous beforehand.
Ireland's Michael McKillop finished in eighth place in the final of the T38 1500m in his Paralympic Games farewell this, clocking four minutes 27.69 seconds as Canada's Nate Reich routed the field to win gold.
Antrim's McKillop, who turned 31 this year, has already four Paralympic gold medals in his trophy cabinet, from three different Games.
Mary Fitzgerald became a Paralympian in fine style today as she finished in 6th place in the F40 shot put competition. Mary grew into the competition with her best effort coming with he 6th and final throw of the competition.
The standard of the competition became clear very early as the first thrower, Nigerian Lauritta Onye, who was the champion in Rio, threw 8.26m with her very first throw. The conditions at the Olympic stadium were not what the athletes would have hoped as the rain poured down throughout the competition. Mary started with a throw of 7.25m and gradually improved until the 4th round where, what looked like a good throw approaching the 8m mark was ruled out. After inquiry the reason given was that some tape from her shoe touched the foul board. This knocked Mary’s confidence for the next round but she recovered her final throw to record her best of the day with 7:79m to move ahead of Baars from Nigerian and finish in 6th place overall. The winner of the competition was Renata Sliwinska from Poland who dominated throughout and she was followed by Belhaj from Tunisia with defending champion, Onye finishing in third place.
Speaking afterwards Mary said “Tricky conditions out there, the rain definitely effects the shot put but I’m not going to use it as the excuse. I would have liked to have thrown closer to my PB of 8.12 but 7.79 isn’t miles off. I got it in the last round so that is probably when I started to get settled with the conditions in terms of challenging the board more but ya look, like somebody said, I can call myself a Paralympian now and that is a huge honour. It’s nice to add it to the CV, a little disappointed but I know there’s more to come in the future and I know this is only the beginning”
She went on to add “Even though family, friends and supporters weren’t there in the stadium, I definitely felt the support ever since I landed in Tokyo and from just before I was about to leave so I’m just incredibly grateful to my family of course, my parents John and Evelyn, to my brother Patrick my club Gowran AC in Kilkenny as well as Leevale in Cork and UCC my college, where I am studying, as well as the Quercus programme. Just the support has been absolutely amazing, I’m just incredibly grateful, I owe them definitely, it’s been just amazing.”
See ParalympicsIreland.ie for more.