Friday 9 December 2016

Frustrated Clifford left to reflect on unfortunate chain of events

Cathal Dennehy

Published 17/09/2016 | 02:30

Gold medalist Eoghan Clifford of Ireland poses with his medal. Photo: Reuters
Gold medalist Eoghan Clifford of Ireland poses with his medal. Photo: Reuters

Shortly after winning his first Paralympic gold on Wednesday, Eoghan Clifford admitted that he had been on the cusp of throwing his bike into the ocean just days before, a long-running knee injury the source of his frustration.

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Yesterday afternoon in Rio, however, a similar feeling must have re-emerged as he came up short in his bid to win a second medal, although this time his anger spawned from a very different source.

The 36-year-old was expected to add to Ireland's tally of nine medals in the 71.1km C1-C3 road race, and looked on course to do so entering the final kilometre as he rode in the leading pack of five.

However, as he launched his sprint with 200m remaining, his chain fell off, forcing the Limerick native to cruise and curse his way to the finish in fifth place as Germany's Steffen Warias took gold. In the end, Clifford (below) could only reflect philosophically about the fickle nature of his craft.

"That's bike racing," he said. "I might not have won but I felt I was in there for a medal. I did everything I could, but these things happen."

Clifford had led for much of the race but he could inflict no further damage on the lead group despite several surges. Having dropped a chain when changing gears in the time trial earlier in the week, Clifford ensured he was in the correct gear as he loitered at the back of the pack, preparing to launch his sprint.

"In the time trial it was my fault, but not here. The moment I put in the power it came off. I'm very disappointed . . . I thought I had a medal."

Team-mate Colin Lynch came home in 24th, having sacrificed his ambitions by making an early move, which Clifford was then able to chase down to form the eventual medal-winning pack.

Back in the Olympic Park, Ellen Keane reached a third straight swimming final. The 21-year-old, who won a bronze medal in the SB8 100m breaststroke earlier in the week, clocked a lifetime best of 1:15.44 to finish third in her heat of the S9 100m backstroke, and eighth in the final in 1:16.27.

In sailing, Ireland's three-man crew of John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O'Carroll finished 12th in races nine and 10 of the sonar competition yesterday, leaving them in 13th place overall ahead of the final medal race this afternoon.

Irish in action

Swimming: S6 100m freestyle heats (1:30pm): Nicole Turner

Swimming: S5 100M freestyle heats (2:52pm): James Scully

Sailing: medal final (4:05pm)

Cycling: men's B road race (5pm): Damien Vereker & Seán Hahessy, Peter Ryan & Marcin Mizgajski

Cycling: women's B road race (5:05pm): Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal

Athletics: F38 discus final (9:36pm): Noelle Linehan

Irish Independent

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