‘I’m over the moon’ – Mona McSharry on making history and an Olympic final in the pool in Tokyo

2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Sunday – Swimming, Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Tokyo, Japan 25/7/2021
Women’s 100m Breaststroke Heats Ireland’s Mona McSharry on her way to qualifying for the semi-final
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Giorgio Scala

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Mona McSharry made history in the pool this morning by becoming only the second Irish swimmer since Atlanta '96 to reach an Olympic final.

McSharry, 19, won her 100m breaststroke heat in Tokyo last night to reach the semi-finals and then produced a superb performance this morning to edge Australian Chelsea Hodges out of the final by one hundredth of a second.

“I’m over the moon," declared McSharry. "That was the target, make it round by round and when I got to the semi-finals it was the plan to try make it into the final.

"I knew it was going to be tough. I was in ninth, already having moved up from my starting position so I knew it was going to be a push, everyone is swimming really fast and it’s competitive. I’m just so happy to get another opportunity to race tomorrow."

Finishing fourth, McSharry's time of 1:06.59 was just 0.3 seconds off her Irish senior record.

“It swam a lot better (than the semi-final)," she said.

Mona McSgharry
(Image: INPHO)

"It was 0.2 slower but considering I got to bed quite late last and I was a bit groggy this morning so I’m not surprised about that but I’m happier with how the race felt so I’m hoping I can pull the two together and swim a fast time hopefully like that.

“I’m going to relax, have a shower, chill, I might come in tonight for a paddle. I’ll definitely come in and watch Ellen and Brendan race, that’ll be fun, just being a spectator for the night. I’ll try get to bed earlier tonight if I can.

“It’s been amazing. Yesterday I was having lunch by myself and some other Irish person I didn’t know, Philip (Doyle), a rower, came over and sat beside me and the two of us had lunch together and that’s really nice if you don’t have your swimming teammates there, to be able to look around and see other Irish people and sit with them and chat.

"That’s the great thing about the Irish spirit as well, we are very close as a nation.”

Meanwhile, disappointed Russell White will look to nail down qualification for Paris 2023 at the earliest possible moment after the exertions of the last few weeks took their toll.

Ireland’s Russell White nears the finish of the Olympic triathlon
(Image: ©INPHO/Bryan Keane)

White finished at the tail end of the men's triathlon field in 48th place, but he can reflect on the achievement of making it to Tokyo after breaking his collarbone last year and picking up the final qualifying place.

“I was on the back foot from the start. I didn’t get a great swim," he said.

“I felt absolutely honoured to be here and competing for Ireland at the Olympic Games but disappointed because it was not the performance I was looking for.

"I didn’t feel like I had the legs today. Setting your alarm for 3.30am is never nice – even if you’ve been doing it for a week.

“Probably less than a month ago I wasn’t qualified for the Olympic Games so to be here today I’m so happy.

"But yeah, in hindsight five races in five weekends in three continents was maybe a bit too much.

"It took too much to get in here in the first place to be in a position to put in a good performance.

“It’s a two-year qualification process and it will start again in May and I think the lesson from this is ‘get it done early and be in a much stronger position', so I’m not chasing at the very end and be in a good position to get a good training block in.

"Those races probably just took too much out of me.”

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