Update - 3.30am, August 8 Attempting to reach the men’s 100m backstroke final proved a bridge too far for Shane Ryan, as he finished last in his semi-final and finished 16th overall.
The Pennsylvania-born swimmer, whose father is from Portarlington, Co Laois, had won a legion of new fans with his relaxed approach to proceedings and realised expectations by getting to this juncture.
He set a new Irish record of 53.85 to do so and in his post-race interview, felt there were areas in which he could improve upon.
The exertions of earlier in the day may have taken their toll though, or maybe it was the excitement and tension that goes with competing in an Olympic semi-final for the first time.
Whatever the reasons, Ryan did not swim up to expectations. Despite starting well, he faded after the turn to clock 54.4, more than a half a second off the PB he had set in the heat.
Romanian Robert Gunta was the eighth swimmer to make it through to a final on 53.34 so a spot in the final would have been unlikely although not impossible, but failure to perform up to his potential will grate.
Ryan will be back in the pool tomorrow for the 100m freestyle, with Nicholas Quinn returning after his weekend warm-up in the 100m breaststroke for his speciality over 200m.
Meanwhile, Paddy Barnes begins his bid for an historic third Olympic boxing medal today, while London fourth, Annalise Murphy will also be hoping for a similar start to four years ago in the laser radial.
Also in sailing, former world youth silver medallist, Finn Lynch will get his Games under way in the Laser at the Marina de Gloria.
The eventing team will be looking to build on a stunning start to their competition by following up on the dressage with clean cross-country rounds that would certainly move them up from fifth towards a medal position. All four will have their eyes on moving up the individual rankings too, with Jonty Evans in a very strong position at present in ninth.
Having had their intended start postponed by strong winds – which the aforementioned Murphy would welcome – the lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls combinations of Gary and Paul O’Donovan, and Sinead Jennings and Claire Lambe will hope to get going today.
Earlier: David Oliver Joyce made his long wait for an Olympic appearance worthwhile with a commanding performance to set up a blockbuster last 16 tie with world silver medallist from Azerbaijan Albert Selimov, write Daragh Ó Conchúir.
Joyce is a multiple national champion, bagging his first Irish belt as a 12-year-old. He was very close making the Beijing Olympics, where his first cousin John Joe Joyce won a bronze medal and was the victim of an appalling decision when losing out in the qualifiers for London.
The Mullingar man, who boxes out of the St Michael’s Athy club run by former IABA president Dominic O’Rourke, was very close to quitting but decided to make one final bid to realise his lifelong dream.
There was no more popular qualifier within the high performance unit when he made it and the 29-year-old was far too strong for African champion and two-time Seychelles sportsman of the year, Andrique Alisop.
It was a more controlled performance than is often the case from Joyce, who has never shied away from going toe-to-toe in his lengthy career.
Following a cagey opening, he finished the first round very strongly. He also had the better of a more even second round, in which Alisop received a cut over his left eye after a collision with Joyce’s elbow.
Joyce removed all doubt with an utterly dominant final round and won the decision on a unanimous verdict.’
“The first one is always the toughest one to get it out of the way” said Joyce afterwards. “I’m delighted with the way it went. I knew getting in there he was a tough guy. We knew there’d be ups and downs.
“This is where I’m meant to be and where I want to be. I’m gonna enjoy every moment of it. In the ring is where I do my best things.
“There were times I wanted to finish it. I’ve sacrificed a lot of stuff to get where I am. I’m gonna enjoy it and give everything I have in the ring. If it’s good enough to get me through and be the champion, fair dues.”
Never short of confidence, Joyce has no fears about taking on Selimov.
“Doesn’t bother me,” he grinned. “I sparred him in camp in Azerbaijan for a couple of days and he knows what he’s in for.”
The Ireland hockey team were back in action against the Netherlands, after their first round loss (3-2) to India and were given a harsh lesson on life in this rarefied atmosphere by the second ranked team in the wold.
In many ways, it was a fabulous effort by Craig Fulton’s crew, as they matched their exalted opposition in terms of possession, shots and circle penetrations, but the lack of economy that proved so costly against India hurt them once more.
In stark contrast, the Dutch were ruthlessly clinical, with two goals in a minute in the first quarter giving them the ideal foundation.
The first came from a Mink van der Weerden penalty corner. Jorrit Croon followed up immediately afterwards, the 17-year-old prodigy adding to his only other international goal – also against Ireland.
Undeterred, Ireland were even better in the third quarter but Netherlands were patient and deadly on the break, van der Weerden driving powerfully beyond world goalkeeper of the year Davy Harte from another penalty corner.
Mirco Pruijser made it four but Ireland continued to attack, forcing a number of penalty corners.
Again, they could not find the finishing touch and Eugene McGee deflected into his own net late on to leave it a considerably undeserving 5-0.
They will take plenty from this performance surely, and if they can recover physically, will look for a good performance against Germany tomorrow before going all-out for victories against Canada and Argentina later in the week.