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Paralympic Breakfast: Plenty of PBs as Keane and Ní Riain reach finals in the pool

All four Irish athletes competing in this morning’s early events clocked new personal best times.

Ellen Keane recorded a new PB in the pool this morning.
Ellen Keane recorded a new PB in the pool this morning.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

DAY TWO OF the Paralympics in Tokyo got off to a great start for Team Ireland, with all four of the early starters in this morning’s competitions recording personal best performances in their events.

The Irish Eye

It was another great morning in the pool for Team Ireland as Róisín Ní Riain and Ellen Keane both breezed into finals.

Ní Riain advanced to the final of the S13 100m backstroke after finishing third her heat. The 16-year-old finished in a time of 1:09.23 – her second personal best in as many days following Wednesday’s S13 100m freestyle event – with USA swimmer Gia Pergolini winning the heat in a world record time of 1:05.05. The final takes place later this morning at 11.12am Irish time. 

“I’m happy with it,” Ní Riain said. “I think it’s the fastest I’ve ever been, it’s a PB, and that’s always good and hopefully I can improve on that this evening.”

Four-time Paralympian Keane will be back at the pool at 11.40am, after winning her heat of the SB8 100m breaststroke. The Dublin swimmer clocked a time of 1:21.71, another personal best time which saw her just pip New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe by 0.04 of a second. Keane and Pascoe set the best two times across the heats, finishing more than four seconds faster than the rest of the pool.

“The heat was fun,” Keane said. “I just wanted to get in and swim fast and that’s what I did.

“Tonight though the girls that I swim against are world class, so anything can happen in the final.”

In cycling, Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal were in action at the Izu Velodrome. The pair were competing in the B 1000m time trial, clocking a time of 1:09.044 with an average speed of 52.1km/hr –a new personal best and a national record – which saw them finish sixth. The duo will be back on the track on Saturday for the 3000m individual pursuit event.

“We are really happy with our race, really happy with our result because we got a PB by 1.3 seconds and delighted with the race,” Dunlevy said. “We couldn’t have done any more, a PB is fantastic.”

“Today was a nerve settler for us,” McCrystal added.

“It was really good to have it before the 3ooom, so that we could go through the warm-up, the procedure. All you can do on the day is go faster than you’ve gone before and I think it shows that we’ve got form, hopefully it will carry on to the next three events.”

Ronan Grimes was out early in the C5 1000m time trial, finishing third with a time of 1:08.262, another personal best time for an athlete competing at his first Paralympics, shaving almost a second off his previous PB time. That time left Grimes in third with 12 cyclists still to compete. 

Grimes eventually finished 15th, as British rider Jody Cundy moved into first place with new Paralympic record time of 1:01.259, only to see that time smashed shortly after by eventually winner Llamas Cabello of Spain, who clocked a blistering time of 1:01.557 to take gold.

“Nice to get the nerves out of the way, go through the warm-up, get a feel of the track under speed and hopefully that’s good confidence for tomorrow so,” Grimes said.

tokyo-2020-paralympic-games-day-two Ronan Grimes during the men's C4-5 1000m time trial. Source: PA

Elsewhere, Colin Judge received a walk over in his scheduled second round table tennis match after his opponent, Brazil’s Welder Knaf, withdrew from the tournament. As a result Judge will proceed through to the next round tomorrow, with further details to be confirmed following today’s action.

Who else is making headlines? 

Aileen McGlynn claimed Great Britain’s opening medal on day two of the Games, while fellow cyclist Jaco Van Gass set up an all-British final with Finn Graham by blitzing the 3000m individual pursuit world record.

Visually impaired rider McGlynn took silver in the women’s B 1000m time trial with a personal best of 1:06.743.

The three-time Paralympic champion only reunited with pilot Helen Scott 12 weeks ago, having previously won a silver and bronze alongside her at London 2012.

ParalympicsGB held all three podium places at one stage, with Lora Facie and pilot Corrine Hall in second and compatriot Sophie Unwin occupying the bronze medallist position.

Larissa Klaassen of the Netherlands ultimately snatched gold from McGlynn in the last ride of the competition courtesy of a time of 1:05.291, while Belgium’s Griet Hoet pushed Facie and Unwin into fourth and fifth respectively.

Paisley-born McGlynn, who won one gold at Athens 2004 and two in Beijing four years later, had ceased training just 12 months ago before resuming following the retirement of Sophie Thornhill, which left Scott searching for a new partner.

“To be here at another Paralympic Games, to set a lifetime personal best time, to come away with another silver medal is just phenomenal,” said the 48-year-old.

“I was riding my bike last year, I wasn’t training, I was just enjoying cycling. Not specific training.

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“I got back into it when Sophie retired. I was asked if I was still cycling. I was asked to come and try out at a testing day. So, I got my finger out got training again.

“There were doubts, yeah. I thought it would be tough call for anybody to get back and be ready in a year. But I thought if I don’t do it, I will always wonder. So, I gave it everything. Here I am.”

Picture of the day

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Germany’s Christopher Huber and the USA’s Trevon Jenifer reach for the ball during their the preliminary round Group B wheelchair basketball match.

Your must-see Paralympic schedule for today

Roisín Ní Riain and Ellen Keane will both swim for medals in the pool later this morning. Ní Riain is out in the final of the S13 100m backstroke at 11.12am, with Keane competing in the SB8 100m breaststroke at 11.40am.

There is also equestrian action today, with Rosemary Gaffney competing in the grade IV individual test at 9.51am, and Tamsin Addison in the grade V individual test at 12.31pm.

-additional reporting by PA & Paralympics Ireland 

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Ciarán Kennedy

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