Kerrie Leonard in action in Tokyo today. Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Paralympic Breakfast: Three Team Ireland swimmers reach finals as archer Kerrie Leonard bows out

Barry McClements, Nicole Turner and Róisín Ní Ríain all advanced from their heats in Tokyo today.

ON ANOTHER BUSY day for Team Ireland in Tokyo, there’s been more strong performances in the pool while Kerrie Leonard, the first Irish archer to compete in a Paralympic or Olympic Games in 13 years, has bowed out, with Philip Eaglesham also taking part in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Stand qualifier. Welcome to the latest of our overnight updates from the Paralympic Games.  

The Irish Eye

Team Ireland had three swimmers in action this morning, and all three have advanced to their respective finals in Tokyo.

Barry McClements was first up, registering a second personal best in as many events as he clocked a time of 1:06.31 to come in fourth in his S9 100m Backstroke Heat, and eighth overall. The Co Down man will now compete in his first Paralympic final at 9.14am this morning.

“I’m good after that,” the 19-year-old said. “I qualified and a PB. Happy, five days since I was in the pool racing. So it’s just about keeping ticking over.

“I always have the speed to go out fast. Just coming back I died a little bit but I set a personal best and qualified.”

Nicole Turner will also swim for a medal in the S6 50m butterfly final at 9.58am today, the Laois swimmer finishing second fastest overall in the heats, with her time of 36.54 seconds only bettered by a world record performance from China’s Yuyan Jiang.

“That went really well,” Turner, 19, said. “This is my favourite event and to qualify second fastest, when I thought I would qualify third, that really drives me and I can’t wait for the final this evening.”

Róisín Ní Ríain, the youngest member of Team Ireland, finished third in her heat of the S13 200m Individual Medley with a time of 2:34.24, with the 16-year-old due back in the pool for her final at 11.42am.

“It was okay, an alright swim, I would have liked it to be a bit faster but I got another chance tonight,” she said. “Hopefully I can do well then.”

And while it was all good news for the Irish swimmers, Kerrie Leonard’s Paralympics came to an end as the archer bowed out in the women’s Individual Compound Open 1/8 Eliminations.

The Co Meath native was in contention throughout her head-to-head match with Artakhinova of the Russian Paralympic Committee, but in the third end Leonard paid the price for shooting a 24 as Artakhinova registered a 29. Leonard responded with a 29 to win the next end but it wasn’t enough to overturn the Russian, who advanced on a score of 141-131.

Speaking after the event, Leonard was hugely proud of her superb performances in Tokyo. 

“It’s amazing to have made the last 16 in the Paralympics and it shows, if you’re given the opportunity, just how much you can do if you go for it.”

In shooting, Philip Eaglesham finished in 14th place overall in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Stand qualifiers with a personal best score of 626.6.

Who else is making headlines? 

Wheelchair racer Andrew Small grabbed Paralympic gold for Great Britain after blitzing his rivals in the men’s T33 100m final.

Small powered to victory in a time of 17.73 seconds on day six of the Games after flying out of the blocks at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

The blistering start proved crucial as defending champion Ahmad Almutairi of Kuwait threatened to snatch victory by closing the sizeable gap, only to cross the line a tenth of a second behind.

Small’s success was an upgrade on the bronze he won behind Almutairi at Rio 2016, with third place on the podium on this occasion going to his GB team-mate Harri Jenkins in a season’s best 18.55secs.

“I entered the race, I don’t ever expect outcomes, I just go and do it and see what happens and hey ho this is where we got,” the 28-year-old told Channel 4.

“I normally have a Garfield brought to me where ‘I hate Mondays’, so I may have to change that now.”

Victory for Small brought ParalympicsGB’s 24th gold of the Games. 

Picture of the day

tokyo-2020-paralympic-games-day-six PA PA

Mexico’s Monica Olivia Rodriguez Saavedra and her guide celebrate winning the Women’s 1500 metres T11 final at the Olympic Stadium.

Your must-see Paralympic schedule for today

It’s all eyes on the pool again with three Irish swimmers in finals today. Barry McClements will be out in the 100m backstroke final at 9.14am, with Nicole Turner next up in the 50m butterfly at 9.58am, before Róisín Ní Ríain competes in the 200m Individual Medley final at 11.42am.

-additional reporting by PA & Paralympics Ireland  

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