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'A lot of people don't come back from glandular fever' - McSharry's path to Olympic final

The Sligo native finished in eighth place in the final of the 100m Breaststroke.

Mona McSharry getting ready for the 100m Breaststroke final.
Mona McSharry getting ready for the 100m Breaststroke final.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MONA MCSHARRY’S PARENTS have expressed their pride following the Sligo native’s excellent display in the 100m Breastsroke final at her first Olympic Games.

McSharry clocked a time of 1:06.94 in an exceptional field to finish in eighth place after she became the first Irish swimmer to reach an Olympic final in 25 years.

“We’re very excited of course watching the races,” McSharry’s mother Viola told RTÉ Sport from their home in Grange after the 20-year-old’s incredible display at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

“It’s great to see Mona in the final and there were a couple of bonuses on top of what she wanted to achieve so that was fantastic.”

McSharry, who will also compete in the 200m Breaststroke at the Olympics, qualified for the Games earlier this year and has been a consistent performer for Ireland on the international circuit.

But the path to the Olympics was not a straightforward one for McSharry after she was curtailed by a bout of glandular fever in 2019.

“What people see here now is the good side of things,” says Viola, “and it’s many a race Mona got out of the pool and wasn’t as happy and buzzing as she was over the last couple of days. So, there’s a lot of ups and downs. A lot of swimmers know that not every race goes the way you want it to go and you just have to pick yourself up and start again and see what you can fix.

“For Mona, it was very hard with the glandular fever. She was really fit and then she had to take a lot of time off. A lot of people don’t come back from glandular fever and have a tough time getting back to the level she was at before. So that was one thing, and then Covid hit and it was a very bumpy road and she was delighted when she qualified for Tokyo, and then to get into the final is surreal really.”

McSharry’s father Aidan, who was also looking on at the final from Sligo, said they were touched by the wave of local support for their daughter.

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“We’re really proud of her, she swam so, so well there. She’s in such good form. It’s really nice to watch her here and we’re very happy for her.

“It’s really been exciting, all the texts we got and all the support from all the local people. It’s been really special and we’ve been on the phone quite a lot today, just talking to people and replying to texts and thanking them for their support. It’s been really nice.”

“We’re really, really happy for Mona. This is her dream for a long time and we’ve just done our best to support her and try to help her along the way. It’s hard to believe that she’s been in the Olympics and we’re really happy for her. It’s really great.”

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