Mona McSharry continued her impressive form at this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games as she secured a coveted final spot in the Women’s 100m Breaststroke today. Finishing fourth in her semi-final today in a time of 1:06.59, she become the first Irish swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final in 25 years.
Elsewhere, both of Team Ireland’s teams were in action today, with the Rugby Sevens making their Olympic debut, losing out 33-14 to South Africa in their opening pool game. They will face USA later on today. The Irish hockey team were also in action against world number one, the Netherlands, and despite a strong defensive display, lost out 4-0.
Russell White was Ireland’s first triathlete in action today, and finished out in 48th place with a finishing time of 1:54:40 for the event. Meanwhile, there was disappointment for boxer Brendan Irvine as he lost out on split decision to Carlo Palaan of the Philippines in his Men’s Fly Round of 32 clash.
Two-time Olympian Brendan Irvine put up a strong fight against Carlo Paalam from the Philippines today in his Round of 32 bout, but it just wasn’t enough, with Paalam taking the win in a split decision 4-1.
Speaking afterwards, the Belfast boxer and Irish boxing team captain stated: “I’m absolutely devastated to not win. I’ve put so much in these past three years to get here. So you can understand why it’s a bit emotional. But I’m immensely proud to be representing my country and to be captain of the boxing team. I just have to pick myself and support the rest of the team now.”
For Irvine, his Olympic journey has been plagued with injury, and despite 18 months out of the ring, in his first fight back in March 2019, he qualified for his second Olympic Games. Reflecting on that Irvine added: “If you had asked me three years ago if would I have been at the Games I would have told you no. It’s an achievement to get here, but when you’re here, you obviously want more, and to get a medal - but it wasn’t meant to be. We’ve a superb team here, incredible athletes, and to be an Olympian is something special, so you can imagine the talent in each and every athlete here.”
Next in action for the boxers today is Michaela Walsh who will compete against long-time rival Irma Testa (Italy) shortly, and will look to turn around the result from the Olympic Qualifier last month.
A late flurry of goals saw world number one side, the Netherlands, eventually break Ireland down and win 4-0 at the Oi Stadium in Ireland’s second group game today. Felice Albers had given the Dutch a strong 1-0 start but the Green Army – inspired by an Ayeisha McFerran masterclass – kept the Oranje raiders out for the guts of 40 minutes. A final quarter barrage from Malou Pheninckx, Laurien Leurink and Frédérique Matla however saw the Dutch ease home 4-0 in the end and in doing so, they matched June’s EuroHockey Championship scoreline, extending their winning streak over Ireland to 30 games, dating back to 1963.
Speaking afterwards, McFerran stated: “It’s tough to take. We defended really, really well and I’m really proud of how everyone just kept fighting right to the end. I’m disappointed with the last goal especially, I think I didn’t do myself justice on that one. But overall, the Dutch showed they are number one for a reason.”
Ireland’s Rugby Sevens team made their Olympic debut at Tokyo Stadium today, as they faced off against South Africa in their opening Pool C game. A tough and physical opening half saw South Africa dominate early on, hitting two tries to put Ireland on the back foot, 14-0. A try from Ireland’s Gavin Mullin on the stroke of half time sent the Irish into the break with a spring in their step, but an early second half try from South Africa widened the gap once more.
A strong reply from Terry Kennedy kept Ireland in contention with four minutes to play (21-14), but South Africa were on hand to reply in style, and pushed on from there to win out 33-14 in the end.
Speaking afterwards, Irish captain Billy Dardis said: “We’re bitterly disappointed. It’s a tough one to take, especially when you’ve been building up to it for the last three to four weeks. I know that’s not a long time, but we know how good we are and we know exactly what it took to beat them – we’ve done it many times before.
“We strayed away from what we do best and it went against us. They were really physical and on for that game. They bullied us, which is a bit annoying, but we will just have to get over it, get on with things and hopefully keep our hopes alive in this tournament later on this evening. I think Sevens is brilliant, you can just wipe it off and look forward to the next opportunity. We’re going to have to review that one, have a look at it and then get ready for a big one later today.”
Mona McSharry was in superb form today, earning her spot in an Olympic final as she posted a time of 1:06.59 in her 100m breaststroke semi-final to become the first Irish swimmer to qualify for an Olympic final in 25 years.
Turning at the 50m mark in 31.62, McSharry sat in 6th place, but an outstanding push in the second half of the race saw her finish 4th, 1.52 seconds behind South African Tatjana Schoenmaker who set an Olympic Record yesterday in the heats.
“I’m over the moon,” an elated McSharry said afterwards. “That was the target, to make it round by round and when I got through the semi-finals yesterday it was just the plan to compete and race and try to make it into a final.
“I knew it was going to be tough. I was in ninth, already having moved up from my starting position so I knew it was going to be a push. Everyone is swimming really fast and it’s competitive. I’m just so happy to get another opportunity to race tomorrow.”
Ranked 11th coming into the event, McSharry placed 9th in the heats before improving her position to qualify in 8th for the final. The final will take place on Day Four (Tuesday, July 27th) at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Russell White made his Olympic debut with a 48th place finish today in the Men’s Individual Triathlon. It was an early start time for all at the Odaiba Marine Park, with the race beginning on the second attempt following a false start. The Banbridge athlete posted a finishing time of 1:54:40 for the event.
The swim saw White exiting in 48th position, 58 seconds down on the leaders. A clean transition to the bike saw him solidify his position and a big effort was needed to stay with those around him on a technical bike course. Eight laps of 5km with 17 turns was the challenge, and White worked in a small group with eight of his competitors, moving up one position to 47th into the final transition.
White was quite isolated for most of the 10km run, with a 30-second gap to the athletes ahead, and over a minute to those behind, and while some cloud cover took the sting out of the sun, the temperature remained intense throughout the event.
Speaking afterwards White said: “I was on the back foot from the start, I didn’t get a great swim. I thought after the first lap that I could maybe bridge up to that main group but it sort of split with about 300 to go and I just didn’t get on good feet. It made for a gruelling bike in a small group and having to really work hard - not much draft, a lot of gaps. Sprinting out of all the corners in such a small group it did burn the legs out for the run.”
Reflecting on his Olympic Games debut he added: “I’m absolutely honoured to be here today and compete for Ireland in the Olympic Games - but obviously, just not the performance I was looking for.”
MORNING RESULTS DAY THREE: JULY 26TH, 2021
Men’s Fly (48-52kg) Round of 32 - Brendan Irvine (IRL) Vs Carlo Paalam (PHI), win for PHI on a split decision 4-1
Women’s Pool A, Game 2: Netherlands 4, Ireland 0
Men’s Pool C, Game 1: South Africa 33, Ireland 14
Women’s 100m Breaststroke, Semi-final 2 – Mona McSharry, 4th in semi-final to place 8th overall with a time of 1:06.59.
Triathlon Men’s Individual –Russell White 48th in a time of 1:54:40
DAY THREE SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ARE IRISH TIME): July 26th, 2021
06:00 Canoe Slalom – Liam Jegou – Semi-Final
06:27 Boxing – Michaela Walsh (IRL) v Irma Testa (ITA) – Women’s Featherweight, Round of 16
06:35 Sailing – Annalise Murphy, Laser Radial, Races 3 and 4
10:30 Rugby Sevens – USA v Ireland, Men’s Pool C Game 2
11:20 Badminton – Nhat Nguyen (IRL) v Niluka Karunaratne (SRI) – Men’s Singles Group Play
11.20 Swimming – Brendan Hyland - Men’s 200m Butterfly Heat 2
11.45 Swimming – Ellen Walshe - Women’s 200m Individual Medley Heat 4