Tuesday 27 September 2016

Sixteen even sweeter for Noelle as she takes discus bronze

Cathal Dennehy

Published 19/09/2016 | 02:30

The Charleville, Co. Cork, thrower made herself and her family proud by chucking her way on to the podium with a best effort of 31.71m in the F38 discus. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
The Charleville, Co. Cork, thrower made herself and her family proud by chucking her way on to the podium with a best effort of 31.71m in the F38 discus. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Sixteen years old - it's an age where most teenagers have accomplished little more than annoying their parents, but for Noelle Lenihan, who won a Paralympic bronze medal in Rio on Saturday, that's not the case.

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The Charleville, Co. Cork, thrower made herself and her family proud by chucking her way on to the podium with a best effort of 31.71m in the F38 discus, handing Ireland their 11th medal of the Games.

Noelle, who is coached by her dad Jim, along with Paralympics Ireland's throws coach Dave Sweeney, was by far the youngest in the field, but acquitted herself admirably in an event won by China's Mi Na in a world record of 37.60m.

What made it more impressive was that Lenihan had a troubled preparation, having struggled with a shoulder injury.

"I had a little niggle and thank god it stayed away and held up for the competition," she said.

"It feels amazing to go to my first Paralympics and come away with a medal. The atmosphere out there was ridiculous, the way they cheered for the Brazilian girl [Shirlene Coelho, who won silver] was unbelievable."

For Sweeney, the overriding emotion was relief.

"She was injured the last four days and we weren't really sure she was going to be okay," he said. "It's incredible for a 16-year-old to be up there."

Elsewhere, Meath swimmer James Scully brought the curtain down on a successful week by finishing seventh in the S5 100m freestyle final, setting a lifetime best of 1:20.18 in a race won by Brazilian hero Daniel Dias in 1:10.11.

"I'm thrilled," said Scully. "It's a fantastic way to finish off the Games.

"The last 15 metres hurt like hell, but I gave it everything and there's nothing more I could have done.

"After being top eight in two events, you're always going to be wrecked, but you just have to empty the tank. I'm over the moon."

No such joy, however, for Ireland's 48th and final competitor, Patrick Monahan, who finished 16th in the wheelchair marathon yesterday.

After struggling with illness in the week, Monahan could only clock 1:40:26, more than 10 minutes outside his best.

"If it was any other marathon I would have dropped out," he said. "I had no energy at all. Whether it was the heat or the illness I'm not sure, but I was drained."

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