Paralympic Village, Day Two: Firth and Smyth make history

It’s undoubtedly been a day to remember for Team Ireland.

Ireland's Jason Smyth on his way to setting a new world record of 10.54 seconds.
Ireland's Jason Smyth on his way to setting a new world record of 10.54 seconds.

TEAM IRELAND CELEBRATED its first Paralympic gold medal today, as Bethany Firth triumphed in 100m Backstroke Final.

Meanwhile, there was further good news for Irish fans, with Jason Smyth breaking the world record in the 100m T13 Heats at the Olympic Stadium.

With over a week still remaining of the Paralympics, here’s hoping that our great performances can continue.

What we learned today

  • Plenty to celebrate for veterans

US swimmer Bradley Snyder won gold in the men’s S11 100m freestyle at the London Paralympics — a year after losing his sight when an improvised explosive device exploded in his face in Afghanistan.

The 28-year-old former US Navy lieutenant won the race in 57.43secs, with clear water between him and second-placed finisher Yang Bozun of China and Hendri Herbst Hendri of South Africa in third. In the US team, more than 20 of the 227 athletes are veterans.

Meanwhile, British former soldier Derek Derenalagi, who lost his legs when the army Land Rover he was travelling in hit a landmine in Afghanistan in the same year, meanwhile, competes in the men’s F57 discus final.

  • Team Ireland has much to be pleased about

With stunning results from both Jason Smyth and Bethany Firth, along with some other notable displays, today will surely be remembered as a great day for Irish sport.

  • Jody Cundy was more than a little aggrieved following a controversial decision by the judges

In the Velodrome, Britain’s Jody Cundy, the favourite in the C4/5 1km time-trial, was left angry and distraught after slipping out of the starting gate and being denied a restart by officials.

He was led away from the track shouting and swearing after throwing a water bottle, as British team officials lodged a protest. But world governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) held firm, blaming the slip on “rider error”.

  • For someone who gets a lot of criticism, David Beckham is a really nice guy

David Beckham often gets criticised, but the classy manner in which he has undertaken his role as a global sporting icon should not be overlooked. British captain Dave Clarke praised the footballer for his part in promoting the blind five-a-side soccer event, saying:

“He’s a genuinely decent bloke who took a real keen interest in our sport and was absolutely genuine with us.

“We’ve had several good luck message from him already.”

Headline of the day:

Ireland’s golden girl

Bethany Firth, 16, delivered an incredible performance to win gold, knocking 1.4 seconds from her time in this morning’s heat.

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Highlights from Team Ireland

Coupled with Firth‘s stunning performance, Laurence McGivern came 8th in the Men’s 100m Backstroke S9 final at the Aquatics Centre. The 19-year-old unfortunately could not improve on his PB in the morning heats, recording a time of 1:02.39. Jonathan McGrath also looked impressive, coming fourth in the 400m Freestyle S8 Heats.

The Team Test Grade 1a Equestrian featured Helen Kearney, who ranked third out of 14, with an impressive score of 72.235. And in the Men’s Team Test Grade IV event, James Dwyer finished fourth with a score of 69.719.

In the Women’s Long Jump, Heather Jameson was 7th with a score of 4.11, while John McCarthy came 15th in the Men’s Club Throw F31/32/51, after registering a score of  20.36. And of course, as has already been mentioned, Jason Smyth met the heavy expectations on his shoulders, setting a new world record in tonight’s 100m T13 Heats at the Olympic Stadium. He will now compete in the final at 7.15pm tomorrow.
(Firth celebrates winning gold – INPHO/Ian McNicol)

In cycling, Colin Lynch was second in the Men’s Individual Pursuit C2 Bronze Medal Ride-off, while Catherine Walsh & Francine Meehan were fifth in the  Individual 1KM Time Trial B. And in the Men’s Individual Pursuit C3 Qualifiers, Enda Smyth was seventh

Meanwhile, Sean Baldwin was 29th in the Shooting, while in table tennis, Philip Quinlan was defeated by Britain’s Rob Davies in the Men’s Singles M1 Preliminaries.

Also in table tennis, in the Women’s Singles F1-2 Preliminaries, Rena McCarron Rooney beat Jordan’s Maha Bargouthi, while Eimear Breathnach was unsuccessful in her encounter with France’s Florence Sireau.

And finally, rowing in the Paralympics for the first time ever, the Irish team produced a respectable performance, coming fifth with a time of 3:33.95.

The best thing we’ve read today:

This piece in The Independent on Brazil’s footballing excellence at the Paralympics is well worth a read.

Hero of the day:

We really can’t look past the phenomenal achievement of Bethany Firth, can we? And besides, we don’t want to jinx Jason Smyth just yet, given that his big race is tomorrow.

You said what?

“(Sport) is such a great tool so that people can get back in the swing of life, feel useful, feel productive and continue building on that team spirit that they learn in the military.

“It’s just a great way for people to rehab and to get back into the swing of life.”

- Obama’s disability policy advisor Kareem Dale highlights the power of sport.

“I know I am in good shape and I am glad to be able to show this in my performance.  It was disappointing not to make the Olympics but the Paralympics is always important to me and it is good to represent Ireland and hopefully medal for my country”

- Jason Smyth reflects on his incredible performance.

Medal table (as of 9.52pm, Friday August 31st)

Additional reporting: AFP

Read: Happy days: Firth claims Ireland’s first Paralympic gold>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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