Olympic Breakfast: joy and despair as Irish medal contenders get going

O’Donovan and McCarthy put down a marker but there was disappointment for medal hopeful Jack Woolley in the Taekwondo 58kg category.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

A ONE HOUR spell on the opening day provided the perfect illustration of the highs and lows guaranteed at the Olympics. One moment, Irish eyes were watching an overjoyed Rhys McClenaghan celebrate his outstanding pommel horse qualification performance.

The next, we saw another debutant in Jack Woolley fall agonisingly short after a late trunk kick from Lucas Guzman ended his gold medal hopes. The game gives and takes. 

The Irish Eye

Reigning world champions Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy reminded the world why they are the team to beat as they clocked the fastest time in the heats of the lightweight men’s double sculls.

Elsewhere in the rowing, Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne got their Olympic quest back on track with a third-place finish in their men’s double sculls repechage. 

A sensational showing from women’s four Emily Hegarty, Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe and Fiona Murtagh saw them finish second in their heat, just 0.2 seconds off Australia. That result ensures they progress straight to the A Final. 

aifric-keogh-eimear-lambe-fiona-murtagh-and-emily-hegarty-2472021 Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

There was disappointment for Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska as they missed out on automatic entry into the semi-finals and will move to the repechages. In the women’s lightweight double, Aoife Casey and Mags Cremen finished fifth in their heat and will need a top-two spot in the repechage to claim a semi-final spot. 

Rhys McCleneghan cemented his claims as a legitimate medal contender on the men’s pommel horse as he booked his place in next Sunday’s final. He was awarded a 15.266 after a near-flawless display. 

“It was a good day at the office. I am an Olympian now and that is a dream come true. We are as prepared as we can be. I am relying on the preparation that we have done so far to replicate my routine today and do it better,” he said afterwards. 

In boxing, Antrim’s Kurt Walker got his Olympic campaign off to a winning start with victory over Jose Quiles in the preliminary round of the men’s featherweight division. After a bright start, the Spaniard came roaring back in the second. The Irish 26-year old managed to get the better of the exchanges and was awarded a unanimous decision.  

As mentioned, there was heartbreak for Ireland’s first-ever Taekwondo Olympian Jack Woolley in his opening bout. The Jobstown native will enter a repechage competition for the bronze medal if his opponent reaches the final. 

Who else is making headlines?

23 sports will take place over the course of Saturday in Tokyo. As well as that, eleven gold medals will be awarded. 

China took an early medal ladder lead after shooter Yang Qian won the first gold, snatching a dramatic last-shot victory from Russia’s Anastasiia Galashina in the women’s 10m air rifle final.

Syria’s Hend Zaza, the youngest athlete competing at just 12-years old, exited the table tennis tournament in the opening round. 

Andy Murray’s medal quest started brightly with a doubles victory alongside Joe Salisbury against second seeds Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

Your Olympic schedule for the rest of today

The men’s cycling road race comes to its conclusion at around 10am with Irish trio Dan Martin, Nicolas Roche and Eddie Dunbar hoping to force their way into the medals.

Ireland’s first swimmers hit the water later this morning with Ellen Walshe in the heats of the women’s 100m butterfly (11.28am) and Darragh Greene in the heats of the men’s 100m breaststroke (12.32pm).

Ireland’s women’s hockey team make their Olympic debut at 1.15pm, and they’ll be favourites to register an opening win against a South African side ranked 16th in the world.

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Highlight of the night

unnamed Source: Kiichiro Sato

There’s a reason why Simone Biles has her very own GOAT emoji on Twitter these days. Not only is the American gymnast bidding to become the most successful female Olympian of all-time, she’s also doing it with moves that have never been successfully attempted in competition before. Ever.

Judging by this training clip, she has the Yurchenko double pike ready to go.

Some further reading 

Tumaini Carayol in the Guardian tells the story of Uzbek legend Oksana Chusovitina. Her Olympic career began in 1991 and has spanned four teams.

Quote of the day

“Two arms, two legs like myself. I don’t care about him. He needs to worry about me.” 

Kurt Walker told RTE he is unfazed by the challenge awaiting him in the next round. He fights reigning world champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov in the last 16. 


About the author:

Maurice Brosnan

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