Eoghan Clifford claims Paralympic bronze at the Velodrome

Galway lecturer wins Ireland’s second medal of the day in Rio

Ireland’s Eoghan Clifford on the way to winning bronze in the men’s  C3 3000m Individual Pursuit at the Rio Olympic Velodrome. Photograph:   Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Ireland’s Eoghan Clifford on the way to winning bronze in the men’s C3 3000m Individual Pursuit at the Rio Olympic Velodrome. Photograph: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

 

Eoghan Clifford claimed Ireland’s second medal of the Paralympics, a bronze in the C3 3000 metres Individual Pursuit at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park in Rio, eight hours after Jason Smyth’s golden triumph in the 100 metres final.

The 35-year-old NUIG lecturer from Galway produced a superb performance to see off Canada’s Michael Sametz, eking out a two second advantage that proved to be enough of a buffer to sustain him to the finishing line, even though it was coming down all the time.

A three-times world champion, Clifford, who suffers from a hereditary muscular degenerative disease called Charcot-Marie-Tooth, displayed character in adversity in defying pain in his knee that compromised both his preparation and affected him during the race.

He explained afterwards: “I didn’t really win that because I had better legs, I was in agony from the start. I won a medal because I felt I would let so many people down if I hadn’t won a medal. Even though I wanted to roar, I’m pretty delighted at this stage. To get something (was great); I would have let a lot of people down if I hadn’t.

“In training I have been very good in the first four laps but the difference today was whereas normally in the fourth lap to the 12th I don’t drop time, today I was eating time and actually after four laps of the qualifier I thought I would possibly break the Paralympic record but my leg today just wasn’t up for it, I don’t know I’ll have to see why.

“It’s good that I had a good start because at the end I was in bits. During the race my left leg seems to go numb, it feels like pedalling on one leg, (with) someone stabbing me in the leg, a shooting pain.

“In training it just meant I didn’t do the same sort of track work as my teammates. I think it stems from the fact that my lower leg is so wasted. I am generating a lot of power up here (quads) but the transition down through my legs is quite poor so it is putting a lot of pressure on my knee.

“It was the only worry I had coming into the Games. In training I had done some times that wouldn’t have got me next to near a bronze medal and then two days later I would do a time that was close to the world or Paralympic record. It was frustrating from that point of view. I didn’t feel I had any control over it.

“I think it is more my condition. I generate a lot of power in my upper legs. On the road bike I don’t particularly get the same injury. My condition is degenerative, and in the last few years, the muscle mass in my lower legs has decreased quite significantly.

“For me this race pushes every button that I am not good at. The time trial is 30k and the road race is 70k; if it was 170k it would be better for me but it’ll have to do. The time trial is 10 times this (3K) distance so it’s more about power endurance rather than this, which is really top end (power).

Nicole Turner swam a personal best in her S6 50 metres butterfly final. The 14-year-old was in contention for a medal up until the final 10-metres but can be very proud of her efforts. It will give her confidence going into the other six events.

Rena McCarron Rooney beat Jordan’s Maha Bargouthi 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 and will compete in the quarter-finals tomorrow.

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