Tokyo 2020 Day 4: Dickson and Waddilove lead 49er class, McSharry takes eighth

Aidan Walsh advances in welterweight boxing; Ireland sevens left heartbroken

Ireland’s Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove compete in the men’s 49er event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: David Brannigan/Inpho

Ireland’s Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove compete in the men’s 49er event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: David Brannigan/Inpho

 
  • Swimming: Mona McSharry finishes eighth in women’s 100m breaststroke final; Darragh Greene clocks 2:11.09 men’s 200m breaststroke heats and misses out on semi-finals; Ireland finish eighth in 4x200m freestyle relay semi-final; Daniel Wiffen breaks Irish record in men’s 800m freestyle
  • Rugby Sevens: Ireland narrowly miss out on quarter-final place due to late Kenyan try; Ireland beat South Korea 31-0 to make 9th/10th place playoff
  • Boxing: Aidan Walsh advances to men’s welterweight quarter-finals with win over Albert Mengue Ayissi
  • Triathlon: Carolyn Hayes finishes 23rd
  • Sailing: Annalise Murphy finishes ninth and 10th in women’s laser radial Race 5 and 6 to move up to 20th overall; Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove take first place in Race 1 of men’s 49er event

Sailing

It was a more successful day on the water for Ireland on Tuesday as sailors Robert Dickson and Seán Waddilove made a perfect Olympic debut to finish in first place in their opening 49er class race, edging out Britain and Germany, while Annalise Murphy improved in the women’s laser radial.

After a tricky start, with the first race being delayed due to shifting winds, the race officials reset the course and the Irish sailed strongly to finish first in a time of 28:40.

The second and third races were due to also take place on Tuesday but they have been postponed until Wednesday. Dickson and Waddilove will hope to build on their strong start but there’s a long way still to go with 12 races in total in the 49er class, the medal race currently scheduled for August 2nd.

In races five and six of the women’s laser radial, Murphy recovered from a disappointing first couple of days to finish ninth and 10th, moving up to 20th overall.

The Dublin sailor knew after the first four races that she needed top-10 finishes at minimum in the remaining races to get back in the hunt.

Annalise Murphy in action during race six of the women’s laser radial. Photo: Dave Branigan/Inpho
Annalise Murphy in action during race six of the women’s laser radial. Photo: Dave Branigan/Inpho

And the 2016 silver medalist did that on Tuesday, improving 12 places in the overall standings to 20th with a rest day on Wednesday before the seventh and eighth races on Thursday and the ninth and medal race on Friday. For the medal race only the top-10 will advance so Murphy needs to maintain this improvement in form if she is to make it.

Swimming

Mona McSharry finished off her historic week in the 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:06.94 seconds in the Tokyo Aquatic centre, not enough to get her better than 8th place in her first Olympic Games but sending out all the right signals for the Paris Games in three years’ time.

The first Irish Olympic swimming finalist in 25 years, the 20-year-old from Sligo, swimming in lane 8, came in two seconds behind the American Lydia Jacoby’s winning time of 1:04.95 seconds.

Ireland’s Mona McSharry during the women’s 100m breaststroke final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Ireland’s Mona McSharry during the women’s 100m breaststroke final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

“It’s amazing. When you think about it like that, 25 years and there hasn’t been anyone else, I think it puts it into perspective,” said McSharry after her swim. “Racing in it, it’s just another final but it really is a lot more than that. It’s really nice to hear that and just makes me feel so proud that I made it there.

“In the race it was kind of hard to tell. I was kind of just trying to go for it. It definitely felt like a good race and anything sub 1:07 is a good race in my mind so I’m happy with the race. Of course it wasn’t a PB and it was the slowest of the three rounds but that comes as well from there being a sense of relief making it to the final.

“I was kind of just excited to go out and race and see what would happen. The worst that could happen was that I could finish eighth at the Olympics and that’s what happened and honestly that’s not a bad result for my first event.”

McSharry took it to the 50m mark in 31.68 seconds and was in touch with the rest of the field but couldn’t gain ground after the turn in the last 50m as Jacoby took the race out. McSharry also goes in the 200m breaststroke on Wednesday.

“I’m kind of just excited to lash it out I guess,” said McSharry about the 200m event. “Originally it was just an extra event and I think it meant a lot more to me before I made the semis and finals because if I had just swam the 100m heats it would have been nice to do, and it’s still nice to do, but I think I’m just going to go out and enjoy it.

“You know, it’s not my main event so I think there’s a bit more relaxation I guess, so I’m just going to see what happens.”

Later on Tuesday morning Darragh Greene made a quick start to his heat in the men’s 200m breaststroke heats but he slowed up in the final 100m, eventually clocking 2:11.09 to finish seventh and 23rd overall, missing out on the semi-finals.

For the first time ever an Irish male relay team competed in the Games on Monday with the quartet of Shane Ryan, Brendan Hyland, Finn McGeever and Jack McMillan coming home in 7:15.48 to finish eighth in their semi-final and 14th overall.

The final swimmer in the pool for Ireland on Monday was Daniel Wiffen and he managed to break the Irish record for the 800m freestyle to win his heat.

While his time of 7.51.65 was not enough to qualify for the final – Wiffen finshing in 14th overall – it was an impressive first outing at the Olympics for the Co Down man.

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“I am ecstatic, I got a personal best on the big stage,” Wiffen said afterwards. “I came out top of the race. It is the Olympics, and I am happy to be here. I rebroke my old Irish senior record which is incredible. I have dropped about 20 seconds this year on it which is a lot. I felt it was like a 1v1 race at the end and I thought I have got to win this. I have got to show the nation what I am capable of. I have huge support coming from home, my parents, family and extended family. It is my mum’s birthday today so happy birthday, mum!”

Rugby sevens

Ireland 12 Kenya 7

Ireland 31 South Korea 0

The hallowed halls of the Olympic Library has countless volumes of hard luck stories, and to that we must add the Ireland Rugby Sevens, denied a place in the play-off matches despite their 12-7 win over Kenya in their final Pool C match.

Ireland did manage to bounce back from that disappointment in their first placing match later on Monday morning with a 31-0 win over South Korea.

Aidan Walsh celebrates after being announced as the winner. Photo: Steve McArthur/Inpho
Aidan Walsh celebrates after being announced as the winner. Photo: Steve McArthur/Inpho

Two tries each for Gavin Mullin and Jordan Conroy as well Mark Roche going over was enough for Ireland to book a spot in the 9/10th place playoff which sets up a rematch with Kenya on Wednesday.

However, a quarter-final spot is what Ireland’s Sevens debutants really wanted but it was not to be on Tuesday morning with that late drama against Kenya.

It was a crazy game in the cloudy mid-morning heat down here at Tokyo Stadium, and truth it is it took a while to take stock. After opening round defeats to South Africa and then the USA, Ireland were certain on one thing: they needed to beat Kenya by at least eight points to play another match. You do the math.

“Nobody really wanted this scenario unfortunately, with the points’ difference,” said forward Harry McNulty. “I think we really should have won that game by a whole lot more. If we had one more score on the board, or didn’t let them in, we would have gone through to the quarters.

“Realistically, if we had played our best the last two days I think we would have been well and truly in there and had a really good shot at putting ourselves up for some sort of medal. It’s just disappointing because we know we’re so much better.

“So, probably one of the lesser performances of our careers. I don’t know what’s really going wrong, but we’re not firing on all cylinders. It’s just simple errors. It’s really small levels but at this level, particularly at the Olympics, those errors will cost you.”

Indeed they did. With just a minute left on the clock, Ireland were poised for that quarter-final position, up on Kenya 12-0. Only then, it the bleeding heartbreak heat of the moment, Kenya scored a try and added the conversion and that was that.

“We’re absolutely gutted,” added Terry Kennedy, whose father Terry Sr also boasts several international caps for Ireland. “I think we spoke about it before the match, bringing that doggedness in defence, and we did that so well. But our attack just let us down, and normally our attack looks after itself, but out there, there were far too many errors to get the win that we needed. We needed to win by eight points or more and it just didn’t happen for us.

“It’s tough. But that’s Sevens, we’re used to it, you’re not always going to be in the medal matches. We have to regroup and try and get the spirits back up and go again.”

A proper heartbreaker for sure, Kennedy setting up Hugo Lennox for the first Irish try early on, although the conversion was missed. Before half-time McNulty added a second try after a Kenyan handling error, but still they couldn’t get the distance they distance, despite several spirited efforts.

Instead, a shaky lineout throw in their own half gave Kenya a scrum, from which they scored that heartbreaker of a try. Tell the Olympics about that.

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.

Boxing

In boxing Aidan Walsh advanced to the quarter-finals of the men’s welterweight division in Tokyo’s Kokugikan Arena with a unanimous 5-0 win over Albert Mengue Ayissi of Cameroon.

Ireland leave the pitch dejected after the win over Kenya. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Ireland leave the pitch dejected after the win over Kenya. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

The Belfast fighter was the better of the two from the off and brought some much needed success to the Irish boxing team after his sister Michaela was beaten in her opening bid for an Olympic medal while Brendan Irvine also went out on Monday.

Just one judge dissented from the other four in the opening round, which was given to Walsh by a margin of 4-1. Walsh won the second more comprehensively with all five judges giving him the round for 2-0, which meant Ayissi had to stop the fight if he wanted to win but the Cameroonian picked up his second points deduction of the bout in the final round.

Although two of the five judges found in the Cameroon boxer’s favour in the final round, 24-year-old Walsh was never in danger.

“It’s amazing to get the first one out of the way and focus on the next one,” Walsh said afterwards. “I just listened to the coaches’ advice and did what they were telling me. My strategy going into it was to keep it long, keep the basics and to do what the coaches said. They always have the best advice and you just have to put your trust in them and listen to the advice that’s given to you. But keep it simple, and what’s worked for me and got me here.”

While most athletes are being cheered on virtually by family, Walsh’s sister, Michaela, is also a member of the boxing team, fighting on Monday in the women’s featherweight division so she was on hand to cheer him on.

“To do it alongside my sister is even more amazing,” Walsh continued. “It’s incredible it’s just one of those ones you can’t even describe, because it’s surreal. Especially in boxing, like something you hear of brothers in the family, but brother and sister, obviously with the female boxing coming along so good it’s amazing. Obviously I’m disappointed for my sister, but now she’ll be rooting for me. We always root for each other - it doesn’t matter what tournament, win, lose or draw.”

Walsh recalled how Paddy Barnes had been an inspiration for him after he won medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

“Paddy was in the club I’m from when he won the bronze medal,” said Walsh. “I always said to my coach I wanted to be here. I remember Paddy gave me his Olympic gear when he was younger.

“I was going around Belfast in Irish tracksuits and people asking me, ‘Where did you get them? Where did you get them?’ Now to have my own gear and to have all these things happening it’s a dream come true.”

Triathlon

Earlier in the morning, under the softly hard rain in the still sweltering conditions, Carolyn Hayes timed her swim, bike and run extremely well to produce an excellent 23rd place in the women’s triathlon.

Carolyn Hayes crosses the finish line. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho
Carolyn Hayes crosses the finish line. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Excellent because, for a variety of reasons including the heat, the crashes and being lapped, only 34 managed to finished, the other 21 getting the dreaded DNF after the start-time delayed by half an hour due to the typhoon warning.

For Hayes, the 33-year-old from Limerick competing in her first Olympics, there were plenty of positives, not least in mixing it with the very best in the world in the hammering conditions.

“Sure, happy enough with the performance,” she said. “I came for a better result but given where I came from the last few years I have to be happy with it. The Olympics is the pinnacle of sport and I always hoped I’d get here, I probably didn’t believe I would. It’s a bit surreal.

“The phone has been inundated with messages and it means an awful lot,” she said. “I want to say a big thank you to my parents and my family, without them I wouldn’t be here today.”

Hayes finished just six-and-a-half minutes behind Flora Duffy, who won Bermuda its first ever gold medal at the Games. Hayes, although coming from a long way back, was super impressive on the 10km run, clocking the 10th fastest time in that leg by finishing in in one hour, 53.36 minutes.

Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown overcame a flat tyre near the end of the bike leg to chase back and take silver, 74 seconds behind Duffy, with Katie Zaferes won bronze for the United States.

“To be an Olympic champion has been my dream since I was a little girl and did my first triathlon,” said Duffy. “Going through my head, I guess was a bit of relief, coming into the Olympics as one of the favourites, there’s a lot of pressure and expectations. I guess I also knew that I was Bermuda’s first medal hope in many, many years and something I wanted to achieve for myself but also for my country. I was definitely overwhelmed, I didn’t know what to do, what to think. It was a really special moment.”

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