Ireland’s 14-year-old Paralympic star completes fourth final appearance

Not many Paralympic finalists would admit their dislike of an event they happen to have a special ability for, but then again teenage swimming prodigy Nicole Turner is not your average Paralympian, writes Cathal Dennehy.

The 14-year-old from Portarlington finished eighth in the S6 400m freestyle final this evening in 5:54.61, a race won by Ukraine’s Yelyzaveta Mereshko in 5:17.01. It was Turner’s fourth consecutive final in Rio, but what made the feat more impressive was that this was far from her strongest pursuit.

Nicole Turner of Ireland after the Women's 400m Freestyle S6 Final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Nicole Turner of Ireland after the Women's 400m Freestyle S6 Final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Late on Monday night, after competing in the 200m individual medley final, Turner admitted that she was almost dreading the thought of the assignment. “I’m not a fan of it,” she admitted. “It’s too far for me.”

However, she emerged as competitive as ever in the morning, qualifying for the final of the 400m freestyle with a season’s best of 5:51.99. “I thought I might be in two or three finals, but to get in four is incredible,” said Turner. “I went in hoping for a PB, to get in the final I knew would be a fight but I made it. I’m chuffed with that.”

Turner has emerged as one of the swimming stars of the Irish team this week, marking herself down as a name who will undoubtedly return and win medals at several future Games. That, however, may not be possible for shooter Phillip Eaglesham, who finished 30th in the R5 mixed 10m rifle prone.

The Royal Marine from Dungannon contracted Q Fever six years ago while on duty in Afghanistan, a rare illness caused by airborne bacteria which has left him wheelchair bound and has meant his health has been in an incurable, degrading state in recent years.

While admitting that just being here was something of a success in itself, Eaglesham nonetheless believed he hadn’t done himself justice. “I’m not happy with the performance but I beat myself,” he said. “Maybe it was the occasion that beat me. I’d like to do it over again, but I get one chance. It’s still been an absolutely amazing experience. If we can inspire one or two people to do something great in their lives, that’s what it’s all about.”

Elsewhere, swimmer Ailbhe Kelly brought her Paralympics to a close by finishing sixth in her heat of the S8 100m backstroke in 1:29.48. “It’s been amazing,” she said. “This is not like anything else, on a different level even to a world championship. It’s weird to think I’m finished now after four years of training, but I’m looking forward to relaxing and cheering on the others for the rest of the week. My road to Tokyo starts next week.”

In sailing, the Irish three-man crew of John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O’Carroll finished in 13th place in race three afternoon, putting them in 12th place overall. The scheduled race four was cancelled due to low winds, but they will be back in action tomorrow.

More on this topic

PICS: Crowds turn out to welcome Paralympic heroes home to DublinPICS: Crowds turn out to welcome Paralympic heroes home to Dublin

Mo Farah, Rafa Nadal and Justin Rose among next batch of hacked athletesMo Farah, Rafa Nadal and Justin Rose among next batch of hacked athletes

Paralympic cyclist dies after crashParalympic cyclist dies after crash

Team Ireland win their 10th medal in the ParalympicsTeam Ireland win their 10th medal in the Paralympics

More in this Section

'There are much better options' - Phil Mickelson did not expect Presidents Cup wild card'There are much better options' - Phil Mickelson did not expect Presidents Cup wild card

Celtic striker Vakoun Issouf Bayo willing to wait for first-team chancesCeltic striker Vakoun Issouf Bayo willing to wait for first-team chances

Rob Herring flying to Japan to replace injured Sean CroninRob Herring flying to Japan to replace injured Sean Cronin

Tokyo 2020 marathon and race walking to be moved to Sapporo’s cooler climateTokyo 2020 marathon and race walking to be moved to Sapporo’s cooler climate


Lifestyle

Food news with Joe McNamee.The Menu: All the food news of the week

Though the Killarney tourism sector has been at it for the bones of 150 years or more, operating with an innate skill and efficiency that is compelling to observe, its food offering has tended to play it safe in the teeth of a largely conservative visiting clientele, top-heavy with ageing Americans.Restaurant Review: Mallarkey, Killarney

We know porridge is one of the best ways to start the day but being virtuous day in, day out can be boring.The Shape I'm In: Food blogger Indy Power

Timmy Creed is an actor and writer from Bishopstown in Cork.A Question of Taste: Timmy Creed

More From The Irish Examiner