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Olympic Breakfast: Mixed bag for the Irish as big stories unfold elsewhere on day four

Mona McSharry’s final, contrasting fortunes for the 7s and boxers, and Osaka’s exit – catch up on all you missed.

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MONA MCSHARRY WAS the Irish name on everyone’s lips ahead of day four at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but there was plenty more to keep an eye on through a busy night: the Sligo sensation’s final, Aidan Walsh’s boxing opener, and the 7s’ date with destiny, to name but a few.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest stories of the Games so far has just broken, with home favourite Naomi Osaka crashing out of the women’s tennis singles.

Welcome to the latest of our overnight updates on The42.

the-ireland-team-dejected There was agony for the Irish 7s on day three. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Irish Eye

Overnight viewing for those on these shores started on a high as Limerick’s Carolyn Hayes, making her Olympic debut, finished 23rd after her impressive performance in the gruelling triathlon. The 33-year-old Limerick star battled through challenging conditions to clock a time of 2:02.10, finishing six minutes and 34 seconds behind history-making winner, Flora Duffy of Bermuda.

The main event for most Irish fans was Mona McSharry’s 100m Breaststroke final. Just the second Irish swimmer to make an Olympic final and the first in 25 years, the 20-year-old star finished eighth in a top-class field, clocking 1:06.94. No matter the result, just getting there was an astonishing achievement by McSharry, and a seismic boost for Irish swimming.

In slightly more left-field Irish Eye news, Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey — grand niece of former Taoiseach, Charlie — finished second in her 200m Freestyle semi-final just beforehand, and will now be targetting a podium spot in the final.

There was agony for the history-making Ireland 7s. Anthony Eddy’s side needed to win by more than seven points to advance to the quarter-finals, though a late Kenyan try ended their medal hopes. They now look to secure a ninth-place finish in Tokyo.

On the contrary, Belfast boxer Aidan Walsh is one win away from a medal, having advanced to the quarter-finals of the welterweight division after a dream debut. The 24-year-old beat Cameroon’s Albert Mengue Ayissi on a unanimous decision in a welcome change of fortunes for the Irish boxing team.

And Annalise Murphy has recorded her first top-10 finish in the Laser Radial sailing race, after a shaky start to the regatta. The Rio 2016 silver medallist’s much-improved 9th place finish in Race 5 moved her up to 22nd overall from 31st. Race 6 is currently underway, and she seems to be going well.

Who else is making headlines?

One of the biggest stories of the Games so far, home favourite Naomi Osaka has just crashed out in the third round of the women’s tennis singles. In a massive upset, she was beaten by Marketa Vondrousova.

Flora Duffy, the winner of Hayes’ triathlon, won Bermuda’s first-ever Olympic gold medal — and just second overall after a simply phenomenal performance.

Similarly, Hong Kong fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long won his country’s first Olympic gold in 25 years — and just second ever — after stunning Italy’s reigning Olympic champion Daniele Garozzo in the final of the men’s foil.

On a big medal day in the pool, it was a one-two for Great Britain in the men’s 200m Freestyle as Tom Dean scorched to gold and Duncan Scott took silver. Australia’s Kaylee McKeown set a new Olympic record to win the women’s 100m backstroke gold medal and upset arch-rival Regan Smith. 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby of USA stunned the field in McSharry’s 100m Breaststroke to win, while Evgeny Rylov led a Russian one-two to win the men’s 100m Backstroke.

Elsewhere, a new-look Fiji swept past Great Britain in a re-run of the 2016 Olympic final to set up a Sevens quarter-final against Australia. Meanwhile, it’s New Zealand v Canada, South Africa v Argentina, and GB v USA.

As Tropical Storm Nepartak neared Japan and disrupted some events like rowing and archery, home hero Kanoa Igarashi stunned surfing world number one Gabriel Medina to prevail from the semi-finals.

Rounding back to tennis, Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the third round of the men’s tournament as he avenged last month’s Wimbledon loss to Frances Tiafoe. All eyes will turn to US gymnastics phenomenon Simone Biles shortly, as she goes for her first gold medal of the Games.

simone-biles A simply stunning shot of Biles by Inpho's Bryan Keane. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Your Olympic Schedule for the rest of the day

Irish eyes will stay on sailing for the next while as Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove get their competition underway in the 49er class from 6.50am.

And focus turns back to the pool later this morning: Darragh Greene is in the 200m Breaststroke heats (11.50am), while the 4x200m Freestyle of Relay Team of Brendan Hyland, Finn McGeever, Jack McMillan and Shane Ryan (12.03pm) and Daniel Wiffen, in the 800m Freestyle heats, (12.31pm) are also in action at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Highlight of the night

The Irish boxing team getting back on track after a few disappointing results. Aidan Walsh was utterly dominant through a dream Olympic debut, as he moved within one win of a medal.

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The real feel-good factor? Despite her journey ending yesterday, his older sister, Michaela, was roaring him each and every step of the way at the iconic Ryōgoku Kokugikan Sumo Stadium.

“To do it alongside my sister is even more amazing,” Aidan said after his bow. “It’s incredible, it’s just one of those ones you can’t even describe, because it’s surreal.

“Especially in boxing, like something you hear of is brothers in the family, but brother and sister, obviously with the female boxing coming along so good, it’s amazing. Obviously I’m disappointed for my sister, but now she’ll be rooting for me. We always root for each other – it doesn’t matter what tournament, win, lose or draw.”

Some further reading 

Ahead of her first date with destiny today, this feature on Simone Biles by Juliet Macur for The New York Times entitled, ‘And Still She Rises. And Rises. And Rises’ is worth a look.

Quote of the day

Mona McSharry was in flying form after her final in conversation with RTÉ.

I’m happy to come away from my first Olympics with an eighth place, it’s really not that bad,” the Sligo star smiled. “I’ll take it!”

“Making a final was my target for 2024, so we’re going to have to sit down and make some new targets,” she later added.

You can watch the full interview here:

Get in touch 

Any questions/comments/expertise to share? You know the drill. Feel free to have your say in the comments section below, or drop me a line at emma@the42.ie.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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