Tokyo 2020 Day 3: Blow for Annalise Murphy’s medal hopes while McSharry reaches final

Defeats in boxing, rugby sevens and women’s hockey but Nguyen wins in badminton

Annalise Murphy during Race 4 of the women’s laser radial. Photo: Dave Branigan/Inpho

Annalise Murphy during Race 4 of the women’s laser radial. Photo: Dave Branigan/Inpho

 
  • Swimming: Mona McSharry reaches 100m breaststroke final; Brendan Hyland finishes third in men’s 200m butterfly heat and fails to qualify for semi-finals; Ellen Walshe finishes eighth in women’s 200m individual medley heat and misses semi-finals
  • Rugby Sevens: Ireland lose 33-14 to South Africa; Ireland lose 19-17 to USA in second match
  • Hockey: Ireland women beaten 4-0 by Netherlands
  • Boxing: Brendan Irvine’s Olympic campaign is over after defeat by Carlo Paalam; Michaela Walsh loses to Irma Testa
  • Triathlon: Russell White finishes 48th
  • Canoe slalom: Liam Jegou misses out on final place
  • Sailing: Annalise Murphy 32nd after Race 3 and 4 of women’s laser radial
  • Badminton: Nhat Nguyen beats Niluka Karunaratne in Group F of men's singles

Sailing

After a second day of racing at the Olympic Sailing regatta in Tokyo, Annalise Murphy’s dream of achieving a second Olympic medal was dealt a significant blow off Enoshima Island on Monday.

While conditions had improved to her liking with a steady easterly breeze for much of the afternoon, the Rathfarnham sailor scored a 24th and discarded a 37th.

Although six races remain before Sunday’s medal race final, Murphy’s total score is more than 40 points adrift of the top 10 from her 32nd place overall.

“It’s heart-breaking, you put so much into it and it doesn’t reward you,” said an emotional Murphy after coming ashore. “I’m pretty upset.”

“In my mind, I thought I’d done everything to prepare really well for these Olympics and it would go really well for me. It makes it even harder when it doesn’t go the way I had envisioned.”

Murphy went for the conservative option in the first race after a good start and sailed up the middle of the course. However, her plan was disrupted after the Italian entry tacked in front of her and she ended up mid-fleet.

Her second race of the day became her worst score of the series and the event discard dropped it. However, that meant counting her disappointing opening race where she placed 35th.

Few of the top sailors have escaped lightly so far with most counting at least one bad result.

Norway’s Line Flem Høst holds a narrow two-point lead over Vasileia Karachaliou of Greece.

But for Murphy, nothing short of top 10 results - or better - for the next six races are needed to get back in the hunt.

Swimming

Mona McSharry became only the second Irish swimmer after Michelle Smith de Bruin in Atlanta in 1996, to make it into an Olympic final on Monday.

Ireland’s Mona McSharry on her way to finishing fourth and qualifying for the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke. Photo: Inpho
Ireland’s Mona McSharry on her way to finishing fourth and qualifying for the final of the women’s 100m breaststroke. Photo: Inpho

The Sligo breaststroker swam her way into the 100m final after coming fourth in her semi-final swim in a time of 1:06.59, just 0.3 seconds off her Irish senior record.

McSharry qualified in eighth place overall with the fastest eight times making it through to the final. The 20-year-old squeaked into Tuesday’s event by one hundredth of a second at the expense of Australian swimmer Chelsea Hodges.

She swam the first 50m split in 31.62 as Swiss swimmer Lisa Mamie took out the field. But she made ground on the return leg to seal fourth place and a lane in an Olympic final.

“It’s amazing,” said McSharry. “This is my first event ever in the Olympics and I’ve made a final... with the past year and a half that everyone’s had it’s unbelievable. No one’s given a medal before they go in. We all have a chance. I’m definitely going to go for it. Everyone at home must be buzzing.”

Later in the morning Brendan Hyland finished third in his men’s 200m butterfly heat, clocking a time of 1:57.09 but that was not good enough for him to reach the semi-finals. In a highly competitve set of heats Hyland’s time was only good enough for 25th with the top 16 progressing.

Likewise, Ellen Walshe saw her hopes ended in the women’s 200m individual medley when she finished eighth in her heat in a time of 2:13.34, leaving her 19th and just outside the time needed to reach the semi-finals.

Badminton

Nhat Nguyen got his Games off to a perfect start with a win over Nikula Karunaratne of Sri Lanka on a scoreline of 21-16 21-14 in Group F of the men’s singles.

Nhat Nguyen hits a shot against Niluka Karunaratne in their men’s singles badminton group stage match. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images
Nhat Nguyen hits a shot against Niluka Karunaratne in their men’s singles badminton group stage match. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

The Vietnamese-born 21-year-old looked in control from the off as he took a lead which he never relinquished.

Karunaratne had already lost to 10th seed Wang Tzu-wei of Taiwan meaning Nguyen now faces a deciding group match against Tzu-wei on Wednesday with the winner advancing to the last 16.

Afterwards, Nguyen said it was an emotional moment making his Olympic debut.

“I am happy to be able to walk off the court as a winner. I am very grateful for the support that I had today. It was overwhelming walking out to all the staff there with me; my physio, my coach and a couple of others in support as well. I wanted to give my all for every single point especially for the support I was given. I was happy I was able to do that even though I didn’t play my best, I am happy that I took the win.

“I feel I shook off the nerves there than rather playing free and playing my style so it was just getting the job done and I was happy that I crossed that line. I have a day to rest with late practise tomorrow. Today gave me a chance to test out the hall so I have no excuses going into the next game unprepared. I am excited and buzzing for it.”

After over two weeks preparing in Japan it was a relief for Nguyen to get on the court and he dedicated the win to his family back home in Ireland.

“I had a good seven weeks of practice in Ireland so when I arrived to the training camp in Fukuroi, it was about maintaining my condition and my energy levels and my motivation. I am in Japan 16 days now before I competed so it was tough. I’ve never had this two weeks of waiting and dying to play so I’m happy I went on court and gave it my all today.

“I dedicate today’s win to my family and my parents at home. They have sacrificed a lot for me and my sister and I am happy to give back by giving them something to cheer about and something to be happy about. They have worked very hard for us and I am pretty sure that they are working today as they work all day every day. I am going to give them a call after this game and I am happy that I made them proud. That is why I play badminton.”

Rugby Sevens

Ireland 14 South Africa 33

Ireland 17 USA 19

On a historic day for the men’s Irish Rugby Sevens side, their first ever participation in the Olympic Games ended in a 33-14 defeat to South Africa at the Tokyo Stadium before a second loss followed at the hands of the USA.

South Africa’s Impi Visser, left, scores a try past Ireland’s Terry Kennedy. Photo: Shuji Kajiyama/AP Photo
South Africa’s Impi Visser, left, scores a try past Ireland’s Terry Kennedy. Photo: Shuji Kajiyama/AP Photo

Four tries from South Africa to two from Ireland, in the end gave the African side a clear winning margin. Ireland did play their way into the game when they came back from 14-0 down to 14-7 with a try from Gavin Mullin and, again when they were chasing from 21-7 down, they came back to 21-14 after Terry Kennedy burst through the middle of the South African defensive line.

But better work at the breakdown from South Africa and a little bit of rustiness in Ireland’s game from not having as much competition over the last 12 months let the match slip away, Stedman Gans grabbing South Africa’s fourth at the death.

“We got ourselves back in it with the second try. I don’t know, I think they just controlled possession better than we did out us under more pressure than we did,” said Kennedy.

“They showed why they are one of the best teams in the world. Definitely we left a few things out there and they probably dominated the breakdown. That’s what cost us. We showed that when we do keep the ball in phases we can score against any one.”

Ireland play Kenya on Tuesday at 3am and will need a victory if they are to have any chance of advancing to the quarter-finals after USA came out 19-17 victors in the second match on Monday.

For Ireland to qualify they will now need to beat Kenya and hope that is enough to make it as one of the best third-placed sides.

It was an improved performance agaist the US with touchdowns from Hugo Lennox and Harry McNulty bringing Ireland back into the game after Perry Baker and Madison Hughes had gone over early.

However, Steve Tomasin touched down unchallenged for the US to kill off any hopes of an Irish comeback and Foster Horan’s late try was only a consolation in the end.

Ireland squad: Jordan Conroy, Billy Dardis (captain), Ian Fitzpatrick, Foster Horan, Jack Kelly, Terry Kennedy, Adam Leavy, Hugo Lennox, Harry McNulty, Greg O’Shea, Mark Roche, Bryan Mollen.

Hockey

Ireland 0 Netherlands 4

The Irish women’s hockey team went down 4-0 in the second match of their Olympic debut against the Dutch World Champions. A dogged performance from Ireland held the Netherlands to 1-0 for much of the game, until the defensive wall finally cracked in the last 15 minutes, when the the Dutch class finally won through.

Elena Tice, Sarrah Torrans and Roisin Upton dejected after defeat to the Netherlands. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Elena Tice, Sarrah Torrans and Roisin Upton dejected after defeat to the Netherlands. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

At the end it was the three late goals that tuned the scoreline as the Netherlands won the match by the same score as they did against Ireland in the recent European Championships in Amsterdam.

It looked ominous from the eighth minute when Felice Albers put her side into a 1-0 lead.

At that stage the signs were not good and it looked like the world number one side would get motoring. But some superb goalkeeping from Ayeish McFerran and sharp work on the goal line from Elena Tice kept Ireland fighting in a backs-to-the-wall game until the final 15 minutes.

Malou Pheninckx, Laurien Leurink and Frederique Matla all struck then to make it a one side score with Ireland due to meet Germany on Wednesday in their third match of the tournament and all the signs at the moment are that it could be a rain affected match.

Ireland: A McFerran, S McAuley, H McLoughlin, R Upton, L Tice, C Watkins, K Mullan, A O’Flanagan, D Duke, N Carroll.

Rolling subs: S McCay, H Matthews, L Holden, M Carey, S Torrans.

Netherlands: J Koning, S Koolen, M Pheninckx, X de Waard, F Albers, L Welten, C van Maasakker, F Matla, L Stam, M van Geffen, E de Goede.

Rolling subs: L Leurink, M Keetels, M Verschoor, P Sanders, L Nunnink.

Boxing

The third Irish fighter into the ring and the second to bow out, Brendan Irvine found his Filipino opponent Carlo Paalam just a little too feisty and aggressive to handle in his opening bout of the men’s flyweight division, eventually losing out on a split decision.

Brendan Irvine (red) and Philippines’ Carlo Paalam. Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Brendan Irvine (red) and Philippines’ Carlo Paalam. Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images

Certainly on the back foot in the opening round, the 25-year-old from Belfast brought himself back into contention in round two, drawing level on two of the judges’ scorecards: Paalam was visibly tiring in the third round, trying some spoiling tactics in the process, but had done enough to hold on, winning on a 4-1 split decision.

For Irvine, who co-carried the Irish flag with Kellie Harrington into Friday’s Opening Ceremony, this certainly fell short of his own Olympic ambitions, and he made no secret of his disappointment in the immediate aftermath.

“I’m absolutely devastated to not win,” he said. “I put so much into these three past years to get here so you can understand why it’s so upsetting but I’m immensely proud to be representing my country and the boxing team, to be captaining them, so I just have to pick myself up and support them for the rest of my time here.

“If you had asked me three years ago if I would be at the Games I would have said no, just with the nightmare that was put in front of me but eventually it wasn’t meant to be. It’s an achievement to get here when you’re here, the ultimate dream for me was an Olympic medal but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Competing in his second Olympics after his debut in Rio, Irvine was asked what he might have tried differently: “Try to relax a bit more and hold my feet, but I’m not going to try to make up excuses or say ‘I could have done this or I could have done that’. You only get one shot at these and mine wasn’t enough.

“It was a close fight. I thought he won the first round but I won the second and third rounds. But that’s boxing. I knew he was going to be explosive from the get-go. I did study him coming into it - something I don’t usually do - but I did study him. I thought I managed him quite well at times. He caught me with a couple of stupid shots but nothing that was hurting me.

“He was tiring from the second round, he was holding me a lot. I was trying to push him off and the referee was ignoring me a wee bit. That’s just the way it goes. Everyone here is incredibly talented. They’re superb athletes. What can you do? I gave everything in there and it just wasn’t enough.”

Later on in the morning there was also disappointment for Michaela Walsh as she was beaten on a unanimous decision by Italy’s Irma Testa in her last-16 women’s 57kg featherweight bout.

Irma Testa (red) catches Michaela Walsh. Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
Irma Testa (red) catches Michaela Walsh. Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Walsh got off to a good start by taking the opening round but Testa settled into the fight in the second, taking that round before also taking the third to advance to the last eight.

Walsh had received a bye to get to the last-16 so the loss means she’s going home after one fight and afterwards she felt a little hard done by with the unanimous decision but acknowledged that the margins are fine at this level.

“I felt the first round I was up, I probably won the first round clear,” she said.

“I wasn’t really getting hit. Obviously in the second round she came on and caught me with a few good shots so I felt going into the last round it was kind of level.

“I had my moments in the last round and she had her moments. The unanimous decision seemed a bit unfair in a way. But that’s boxing. I wish her all the best, I hope she can go all the way.”

The two fighters were well known to each other having boxed twice already this year and Walsh felt the familiarity could help her on Monday.

“I knew her very well and Zaur had a brilliant game-plan going in. In the first round, I think they told me it was 3-2, I thought I won that round comfortably. Then, obviously, she came on. Sometimes you don’t know what the judges are looking for.

“Obviously the game plan was to stand off because she’s so fast, especially with the jab, and she’s a good bit taller than me so it was sort of stand off to make her miss and then try to counter that. It worked out well in the first and then obviously she cottoned onto it and then it was all to play for in the third.

“I felt we both had our moments. I just think the 5-0 doesn’t really do the fight much justice but at the end of the day that’s boxing. This fight doesn’t define me. As much as I wanted to win a medal, I will be back again and I still think I’m up there with some of the best in the world in the 57kg category.

“I boxed her three or four months ago in Belfast and then I boxed her last month in the qualifiers. I felt going into this very confident.

“I knew what to expect and vice versa she knew me very well. It was a close fight and obviously she got the nod.

“That’s over and done with now and we move on to my brother and the rest of my team mates and I will be cheering them all on all the way.”

At 3.30am on Tuesday, Aidan Walsh will face Albert Mengue in the last-16 of the men’s welterweight division and Michaela now hopes that her sibling can nab a medal for the household.

“It is unbelievable. I was hoping we could both get medals but unfortunately not but hopefully my brother Aidan can take home a medal for the Walsh household.”

Triathlon

Earlier down at in Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay, Russell White was the sole Irish entrant lining up the spectacular setting for the men’s triathlon, which featured a 1.5km swim in Odaiba Bay, a 40km cycle around the Marine Park and leafy West Promenade district, before finishing with a 10km run in the same setting.

Russell White picks up his bike during the men’s triathlon. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Russell White picks up his bike during the men’s triathlon. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Conditions were properly demanding too, and White found himself part of the small chasing group from early in the swim and into the cycle, ending up 48th of the 49 finishers; two more failed to finish at all.

In his first Olympics, the 29-year-old White clocked 1:54:40, which was just under 10 minutes behind gold medal winner Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway, who most said didn’t like the heat, only for Blummenfelt to delivering a searing run which saw him win Norway’s first Olympic medal of any colour in triathlon.

Alex Yee continued Britain’s form in the event to win silver, Hayden Wilde of New Zealand winning bronze - with Jonny Brownlee, silver winner in 2016 and bronze in 2012, in the absence his double champion brother Alistair - ending up fifth.

No one got off to the perfect start as a media boat crossing the course resulted in a false start, meaning they had to be called for a second attempt. For White, who only qualified late for Tokyo, there were other lessons to take away.

“Yeah, on the back foot from the start, didn’t get a great swim,” said White. “Then on the bike, I thought after the first lap I could maybe bridge the gap up to that main group, but it just sort of slipped with about 300m to go, and I couldn’t get on good footing.

“But still absolutely honoured to be there today and compete for Ireland in the Olympic Games. Obviously not the result I was looking for, I just didn’t feel I had the legs today, and there were a lot of gaps. And that really hurt the legs for the run.

“Less than a month ago, I wasn’t qualified for the Olympic Games, to be here today, I’m still happy, but in hindsight five races in five weekends in three continents might have been a bit much, maybe burned me out for the main time. Our qualification for Paris will start again in May, and I think the learning from this will be get it done early.”

Canoe slalom

In the men’s C1 semi-final there was disaster for Liam Jegou as he missed two gates, ending his hopes in the process.

Liam Jegou holds his head in his hands after crashing out of the C1 canoe slalom. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Liam Jegou holds his head in his hands after crashing out of the C1 canoe slalom. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The 25-year-old had got off to a good start but two mistakes left him with his head in his hands as he crossed the line.

Jegou was placed fifth of the 15 competitors but, with 100 penalty seconds to be added on for those missed gates, he won’t qualify for the final later on Monday morning.

“It was completely going to my plan, I felt great, I was enjoying myself, I was gliding the boat, physically I was there. I got through all the tough moves, I really enjoyed the course design today and just out of that last sub-stream I just lost balance and ended up ducking in front of one of the gates and maybe it stayed in my head on the next move. The next move, I’ve done in training 20 times and I haven’t missed it once, but that’s slalom. You’ve got to be very precise everywhere or else it’ll cost you the race and that’s precisely what happened today.

“I was having a great run, maybe I switched to that mindset of ‘I’ll just finish it off’, instead of, ‘I’ll attack the rest’. I need some time to reflect on it, it’s very raw, right now I’m just really, really gutted. There’s a lot of work put into this, a lifetime of work, so to mess it up there on one of the final gates, I’m disgusted with myself.

With Paris 2024 in just three years time now and Jegou only 25-years-old, he is confident that this won’t be his last appearance for Ireland at the Games.

“I’m confident I’ll be around the next three years because I love slalom, it’s going to be an hour now of me sulking and being a bit pissed off, after that it’s over, it’s in the past and I’ll enjoy going back for a paddle next week or go do something else first. I love this sport and it’s the Games, it hurts, but there’s plenty of other races I’m excited to race this season.”

Tokyo 2020

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