Cork’s Orla Barry found silver lining with her second-place finish in the F57 discus throw in Rio today, having overcome a plague of doubts which had threatened to derail her medal chances earlier in the week, writes Cathal Dennehy.
The 26-year-old from Ladysbridge was a bronze medallist at the 2012 Games in London, but in warm, humid conditions in the Olympic Stadium, she went one better today.
The event was won, as expected, by Nassima Saifi of Algeria, with a best throw of 33.33m, but Barry was in splendid isolation back in second, her best effort of 30.06m coming on her third attempt and leaving her almost three metres clear of bronze medallist Eucharia Iyiazi of Nigeria.
“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Barry. “I’ll be honest, there were doubts there all week so to throw 30 metres is a good day.”
Barry, a bilateral leg amputee, finished fifth at the 2008 Games in Beijing and improved to bronze at the 2012 Games in London.
Having gone one better in Rio, the obvious question is whether she can now achieve the ultimate goal in Tokyo 2020.
“I always said after Rio I’d take each year as it comes, so next year we’ll have the world championships and I’ll be back into training,” she said.
“The medal collection is growing, but anything can happen in four years. I’ll have to put the work in.”
At the Lagoa Stadium, the venue for Ireland’s rowing heroics during the Olympics, Pat O’Leary finished sixth in the canoeing KL3 200m final in 42.78, less than three seconds behind race winner Serhii Yemelianov of Ukraine.
“Anyone who's ahead of me, I know how hard I've worked so they must have worked bloody hard to get there,” said O’Leary. “I'm still very proud of what I did. If what I am is sixth in the world, then how bad is that?”
Swimming sensations Ellen Keane and Nicole Turner continued their successful Games, both reaching the final of their respective events yesterday.
Keane finished eighth in her final of the S9 100m butterfly in 1:11.27, a race won by China’s Jialing Xu in 1:07.90.
“My goal was to make the final and I did that,” said Keane.
“My mind was buzzing last night after winning a medal so I found it hard to sleep. I was wrecked today, but I tried my hardest. I hope I did my coach proud.”
Turner, meanwhile, somehow found the energy within her to reach her fifth straight swimming final in Rio, clocking 1:46.19 to finish seventh in the SB6 100m last night.
“The swim was alright,” said Turner who, at 14, is the youngest member of the Irish team.
“To say that this is my fifth final at my first Paralympic Games is unbelievable. I’m pretty tired now.”
Over at the Olympic Stadium, however, there was heartbreak for 400m runner Paul Keogan, who was disqualified in his heat of the F37 400m for a false start, bringing his Games to a close before they even began.