SWIMMING : Banks backs Irish to mount strong push for Olympics
SWIM Ireland's national performance director Peter Banks still believes there can be a strong Irish contingent at the London Olympics next summer despite a largely disappointing display at the World Championships in Shanghai, which came to an end yesterday.
Ireland did finish on a high when 16-year-old Sycerika McMahon qualified for the semi-finals of the 50m breaststroke in a new Irish senior record, finishing 13th overall, but Grainne Murphy, Barry Murphy and Melanie Nocher all fell well short of their expectations.
"Not everyone was where they wanted to be this week, but I believe we are going in the right direction," Banks said.
"We have a very tough goal of six Olympic 'A' standards for London next year. There are opportunities for us to qualify in open water and a women's relay as well."
Michigan-based sprinter Barry Murphy remains the only qualifier for London. European junior champion McMahon set a new Irish senior and junior record in the 50m breaststroke heats with 31.49 seconds before finishing in 31.83 in the semi-finals.
"I was so pleased when I found out that I'd made the semi," said 16-year-old McMahon. "It's really inspired me to keep working hard because I want to be here with these girls and maybe in a few years' time be up there at the top."
Meanwhile, Ryan Lochte claimed his fifth gold medal yesterday in the men's 400m individual medley.
His fourth individual medal ensured he repeated the feat of two years ago in Rome when he won both the 200m and 400m individual medley titles. Lochte also won the 200m freestyle and 200m backstroke and was a member of the gold medal-winning 4x200m freestyle relay team.
China's Sun Yang broke the 1,500m freestyle record in the final men's individual event on the programme yesterday.
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