McMahon and Evans leave with pride intact


Irish in Action:What a difference a day makes. Just over 24 hours after failing to find her form in her favoured 100m breaststroke, Sycerika McMahonturned things around in the heats of the 200m individual medley this morning.

The Portaferry teenager may not have made the semi-finals, but she shaved over a second off her personal best to clock a time of 2 minutes, 14.76 seconds. In terms of performance, it was well beyond expectations for the 17-year-old who will come away from these Games with invaluable experience.

Although she finished third in her heat, McMahon was eventually pushed down into 22nd place as the heats progressed with just the top 16 advancing to the next stage. However, she will leave the Aquatic Centre with her head held high with a swim that bodes well for the future.

“Yesterday I wasn’t really very pleased with the 100 breaststroke,” McMahon explained after today’s race. “So today I just decided to go all out, to take that risk from the very start.

“I definitely think I could go faster . . . it was such a good experience coming here anyway. The goal was always to qualify so whatever I did after that was always a bonus. I’ve absolutely loved, every single second, there is such a brilliant atmosphere.

“And there is so much I can learn from these guys. They’re at the top of their game, in a few years I want to be there too. Even standing on the blocks beside them was really a privilege”

Chinese teenage sensation Ye Shiwen set herself up for a golden double when she posted the fastest qualifying time in the event. The 16-year-old, who shattered the world record to win the 400 medley on Saturday, was untroubled winning her morning heat in the four-lap race, stopping the clock at 2:08.90.

Despite easing off on the final freestyle leg, Ye still finished well clear of her main rivals to emerge as the nearly unsinkable favourite to snatch the gold. She was more than a second and a half ahead of her nearest rival, Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry, and more than three seconds clear of Australia's Stephanie Rice.

Badminton: Scott Evansfailed to trouble the great Lin Dan as the Olympic champion launched his title defence with an emphatic victory. The Chinese superstar, widely regarded as the greatest player of all time, was barely extended by the Dubliner as he eased to a 21-8 21-14 victory in their first-round match at Wembley Arena.

The victory sees Lin go straight through to the last-16 knockout phase at London 2012 as the pair were the only players in Group P. Evans had described the match as the biggest of his life and made a confident start as the crowd got behind him.

The world number 76 hit a couple of good winners in the opening exchanges but Lin, despite playing well within himself, soon asserted his authority. A run of seven unanswered points put Lin, seeded only second behind his great rival Lee Chong Wei, in command.

He controlled the rallies with ease and often only had to wait long enough for Evans to hit the net. Evans did break through occasionally with some fine cross-court shots, much to the delight of those watching, but it did not delay the inevitable Lin victory for long.

The victory sees Lin go straight through to the last-16 knockout phase at London 2012 as the pair were the only players in Group P.

Canoeing: Hannah Craigdid just about enough to make it through to Thursday’s semi-finals in the kayak K1 slalom, the Co Antrim paddler qualifying 14th out of the 15 to advance. The 27-year-old had plenty of speed on the first run but got out of position and ran up four time penalties to leave her on 117.07 seconds.

Aware that time wouldn’t see her through, Craig tightened up on her second run, incurring just two penalties as she posted an improved time of 108.99. After an anxious wait for the rest of the competitors to complete their second runs, Craig held on to 14th spot and clinched a place in the semis.

Both the semi-final and final take place on Thursday. "I'm really proud of how I paddled and the result was a plus," Craig said after the results were confirmed. "I knew I needed a good solid run in the second run and on this course there are no guarantees."

Sailing: Annalise Murphycould not have dreamed of a better start to her debut Olympic campaign, the 22-year-old winning both her opening two races as she dominated the fleet in Weymouth. Racing in the Laser Radial class, Murphy is the sailor to catch after the first day of racing.

The Dubliner had based herself in Weymouth to prepare for these Games, training full-time for the last three years, and all that hard work paid off on the south coast of England this afternoon. The first race was a tight affair, with Murphy pushed all the way by Lithuania’s Gintare Scheidt before moving clear after the final mark to win by 15 seconds.

With the wind in her sails, Murphy chased down Evi Van Acker of Belgium from the gun in the second race, overtaking her at the third mark and going on to score an emphatic win by 45 seconds. Murphy is back in the water tomorrow afternoon for the next two races in the 10-race series.

On an encouraging afternoon for the Irish team, Ryan Seatonand Matthew McGovernimpressed with a fourth place in the opening race of the 49ers. The Belfast pair were eighth in the second race to lie in sixth overall. It was a different story, unfortunately, for James Espey(Laser), who lies 42nd in the overall standings.

Peter O'Learyand David Burrowsdropped from second spot to fifth in the overall rankings of their Star class regatta after today's two races.

Their fall was due to a 14th place finish in the first of the two races, but a fifth in the second outing improved their score after four races.

Equestrian:Ireland lie in seventh place in the equestrian team eventing table after today’s cross country at Greenwich Park.

Three of Ireland’s fiver riders completed the course while Michael Ryanand Camilla Speirswere eliminated after both fell.

Michael Ryan was first out for the Irish but fell at the penultimate fence. Aoife Clarkfared better with a round score of 52.50 on Master Crusoe which puts her in 21st position overall. Joseph Murphyis in 29th place after a round score of 60.40 on Electric Cruise.

Speirs, though was eliminated when she fell badly at the Rose Garden corner with 60.40. Medics attended to Speirs as a precaution but both the rider and her horse Just a Jif escaped injury.

Mark Kylethen turned in a controlled performance to place 35th on Coolio 65.90.

Ireland now lie seventh with a total score of 178.80. The first jumping test tomorrow morning decides the placings in the team event. Once this has been completed, a second jumping test determines the winners of the individual competition.

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