Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Golden Girl

'I just knew I was capable of doing something great' - Ellen Keane's nerveless gold medal performance in Tokyo

The Clontarf swimmer clinched Ireland’s first medal of the Paralympic Games earlier.

ELLEN KEANE SAYS she trusted herself to do something special in the pool this morning, before she put in a career-best performance on her way to Paralympic gold. 

The 26-year-old — who was a bronze medal winner in Rio — produced a stunning display to clinch Team Ireland’s first piece of hardware of the Games. 

“I took a break from social media as I felt it was distracting me a bit and even online I felt the nerves creeping in,” Keane told RTÉ Sport afterwards, “and for these Games I wanted to be as present as possible and that’s really what I’ve been doing.

“I think this is the first Games I’ve been at where I’m not nervous, I’ve been so calm. Even last night, I was a little bit worried as to how calm I was but then this morning for the heats I was a little bit nervous and for the final I was calm again.

“So I think I just knew that I was capable of doing something great and it was trusting that and trusting myself. 

“And I’m nearly glad that the Games were postponed [last year] because I’ve had that time to work on myself. I usually get really nervous going into competitions and the past 18 months I think I’ve just learned to trust myself and that’s happened here today.” 

The Clontarf swimmer revealed she had a specific gameplan for the final, in which she beat New Zealand’s Sophie Pascoe of New Zealand into second place. 

“I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet,” she said. “When I dove in my goggles filled up with water but I think that was maybe a good thing because I couldn’t see where the girls were around me.

“Just on the turn I saw Sophie a little bit but I just had a game plan in mind and I stuck to that. The last thing my coach said before I went out was ‘If I need to push you in a wheelchair home, I want those legs wrecked.’ And that’s exactly what I did. 

“If I rush my stroke I actually don’t get any power from my legs. So it was more about being long and strong and keep it as streamlined as possible.” 

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