Ireland’s two swimmers in Day Four action at the Olympic Games in Rio both bowed out today despite very positive results.
Nicholas Quinn won his heat of the men’s 200m breaststroke, but missed out by less than half a second on tonight’s semi-finals.
His time of 2 minutes, 11.67 seconds was close to his lifetime best of 2:11.24, and was well-earned after lying a close second for most of the race behind home Brazilian Tales Cerdiera, with a performance to delight the home crowd.
However, the yellow-and-green-clad hordes would be disappointed with Quinn overtaking their favourite in the final 25 metres to take the victory, but it would see him record the 19th-fastest time, falling just short of the top 16, who will now go on to the semis.
“I wanted to come into that race and leave everything in the pool. I’ve done that,” said the 23-year-old Edinburgh-based Castlebar swimmer afterwards.
“I had nothing more to give in the end. I’m walking out of here with my head held up high. I’m proud of that swim.
“It would have been nice to get a PB but it’s so marginal. It easily could have been half a second the other way, but I’m not worried about that.
“I’m in a good place. I did everything I could this year to put myself in the best possible position to race as fast as I could.
“Swimming is not a science. You control all the controllables. I controlled everything I could and so am proud of that.”
Quinn, previously a European Junior semi-finalist, admits his progress in 2016 to even make it to Rio is impressive.
“It’s been a big year for me. At the start of this year if you said to me I’d swim in the Olympics AND do a 2:11, I would have bitten your hand off and ran away.
“The fact that I’m standing here and I’m not fully happy shows how far I have come.
“I’m happy though and hope there is more to come.”
Shane Ryan has been denied also in the men’s 100m freestyle, despite finishing in second place in his heat.
Ryan kept up with the pace throughout, his 49.82 seeing him finish second behind Algerian Oussama Sahnoune’s winning time of 49.20.
Both were eliminated however, with Ryan registering the 40th best time out of 59, having suffered an ankle injury heading into his pool time today that severely restricted him.
“I don’t know how it happened.
“Warming down after the 100m backstroke, I felt something happen. I felt something really weird click with my ankle.
“I thought it would be fine and would go away, but that night it kicked up. While I was laying in bed, it was throbbing.
“It’s agonising, I just can’t flex it. I didn’t warm up my legs at all.
“I really don’t know what I did to it as I wasn’t being stupid with it at all, messing around.
“I tried to tough it out, but it prohibited me quite a bit.
“I have to rest my ankle and get ready for the 50m freestyle.
“It was a good start, not the greatest though, not into the water as well as I wanted to.
“It was harder to kick because of my ankle. The first 50m felt great through, and then after the turn, was hit by a wave as soon as I popped up, but was happy with the swim. Died at the end though!”
Ryan returns to the Rio Aquatic Centre on Thursday with the heats of the men’s 50m freestyle.
His opinion? “For the rest of the week, it’s just a 50 so I will have to push through it.”