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Paralympic Breakfast: Great morning in the pool for Ireland with Turner and Ní Riain into finals

Three Irish swimmers registered personal bests, while Colin Judge suffered defeat to China’s Zhao Ping.

Limerick teenager Róisín Ní Riain in action.
Limerick teenager Róisín Ní Riain in action.

DAY ONE OF of the Paralympics in Tokyo is underway as a 29-strong Team Ireland start to compete for medals.

The Irish Eye

Irish athletes Nicole Turner and Róisín Ní Riain will be swimming for medals later this morning following impressive performances in the pool overnight.

Both clocked personal bests as Turner finished fifth in her 50m freestyle (S6) heat with a time of 35.47. Her final takes place at 10.46am.

The 16 year old Limerick native made light of being in the pool for the first time at a Paralympic Games as she powered to third place in the S13 100m Freestyle heat and finished with a three second personal best performance of 1:08:18.

That performance secured her place in the final where she will join Turner on the blocks with an opportunity to race for a medal. Ní Riain’s medal event gets underway at 11.38am.

The Izu Velodrome also welcomed the first of the Irish Para Cyclists into action today. Richael Timothy also hit a personal best in the Women’s 3000m (C1-3) Individual Pursuit qualifiers.

She produced a blistering performance just narrowly missing out on a place in the final. She took the pace out hard from the beginning and kept a steady speed as she bore down on the aero bars before catching her opponent, Marzinke, on the third lap.

Her finish of 4:11.69 was a huge 14 second personal best as she just missed out on a place in the final with an overall finish of ninth place in a race where the world record was broken twice.

The Roscommon native will return to action on Friday in the 500m (C1-3) Time Trial.

Earlier this morning, Down swimmer Barry McClements was the first Irishman in action with the 19-year-old making his debut in the 400m freestyle heats, the first of his four S9 amputee events in Tokyo.

McClements registered a new personal best with a time of 4:27.11 but he narrowly missed out on a place in the final by one second as he finished ninth overall with eight progressing through to the final.

“I knew from last night I was going to be the first Irish Paralympian up, so I’m really happy I set the tone of the competition for us with a personal best,” said McClements afterwards.

colin-judge-in-action-against-ping-zhao Ireland’s Colin Judge in action against Ping Zhao of China. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

There was disappointment for Colin Judge, who lost his table tennis match 3-1 on sets in his first appearance at the Games. The Dubliner gave a battling performance but was defeated by tough Chinese opponent Zhao Ping, ranked sixth in the world.

It was a nervous start for the Dubliner who was making his first ever Paralympic appearance, and he lost that first set 11-6. However, he got to grips with his opponent in the second set taking Zhao to 9-9 but the Chinese star scored two quick consecutive points to leave Judge needing to win the remaining three sets.

The third set was Judge’s best as he once again drew level with Zhao at 9-9 and then 10-10 but Judge wasn’t going to be denied this time and took the set 12-10. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Judge as Zhao found another gear clinching the fourth set and the match 11-6.

Judge will now hope that Zhao wins his second match this evening and that he can beat his Brazilian opponent tomorrow in order to have hope of advancing to the next round.

He returns to competition tomorrow in the SM3 singles qualification.

Who else is making headlines? 

Sarah Storey began her quest to become Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian by smashing her own world record en route to stylishly retaining C5 3000m individual pursuit gold.

In a repeat of the all-British Rio 2016 final, Storey once more got the better of compatriot Crystal Lane-Wright.

The relentless defending champion laid down a marker earlier on day one of Tokyo 2020 by shaving more than four seconds of her own world record in qualifying, powering over the line in 3:27.057

She did not need to repeat the trick in the deciding race at the Izu Velodrome as she remarkably caught Lane-Wright inside eight laps following a rapid start, leaving her rival to settle for another silver.

In winning her country’s first gold of the Games, Storey took her total haul to 15 Paralympic golds – one short of swimmer Mike Kenny’s British record – and a phenomenal 26 medals overall.

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The 43-year-old will have a chance to surpass Kenny next week when she attempts to defend her C5 time trial and C4-5 road race crowns.

“For me as an individual, I’ve won a medal at every single Games I’ve been to and this is my fourth time winning the individual pursuit in a row,” she told Channel 4.

Picture of the day

2.61954145 Source: Joe Toth for OIS/PA

Meghan Mahon of Canada collides with the feet of her team mate Amy Burk as the goalball competition started in Tokyo.

Your must-see Paralympic schedule for today

We’re back in the pool later as Nicole Turner bids for a medal in the S6 50m Freestyle Final at 10:46am.

You can watch Róisín Ní Riain’s S6 50m Freestyle Final at 11:38am.

-additional reporting by PA & Paralympics Ireland

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Kevin O'Brien

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