Tuesday 28 March 2017

Turner looking to the future after reaching her fourth final in Rio

Paralympics

Ireland's Nicole Turner. Photo: Sergio Moraes/Reuters.
Ireland's Nicole Turner. Photo: Sergio Moraes/Reuters.

Cathal Dennehy

Late on Monday night, 14-year-old Nicole Turner emerged from the pool at the aquatics centre a tired athlete, halfway through her exhausting six-event schedule at the Paralympics. Looking ahead to yesterday's S6 400m freestyle, she was, perhaps understandably, not expecting a lot.

"I'm not a fan of it," said the Laois swimmer. "It's too far for me." As a result, we assumed this finals streak of hers might not continue - Turner had already been three from three - but yesterday in Rio she kept the ball rolling, qualifying for the final of the 400m freestyle with a season's best of 5:51.99.

Late last night, she came home eighth in the final in 5:54.61, a race won by Ukraine's Yelyzaveta Mereshko in 5:17.01.

"I thought I might be in two or three finals, but to get in four is incredible," said Turner. "I went in hoping for a PB. To get in the final I knew would be a fight but I made it. I'm chuffed with that."

Turner has emerged as one of the stars of the Irish team here in Rio, marking herself down as a name likely to return and win medals at several future Games. That, however, may not be possible for shooter Phillip Eaglesham, who yesterday finished 30th in the R5 mixed 10m rifle prone.

The Royal Marine from Dungannon contracted Q Fever six years ago while on duty in Afghanistan, a rare illness caused by airborne bacteria which has left him wheelchair-bound and means his health has been in an incurable, degrading state in recent years.

While admitting that just being here was something of a success, Eaglesham was unwilling to pretend he had done himself justice. "I'm not happy with the performance but I beat myself," he said. "Maybe it was the occasion that beat me. I'd like to do it over again, but I get one chance. It's still been an amazing experience. If we can inspire one or two people to do something great in their lives, that's what it's all about."

Elsewhere yesterday, swimmer Ailbhe Kelly finished sixth in her heat of the S8 100m backstroke in 1:29.48. "It's been amazing," she said. "This is not like anything else, on a different level even to a world championship. It's weird to think I'm finished now after four years of training, but I'm looking forward to relaxing and cheering on the others. My road to Tokyo starts next week."

In sailing, the Irish three-man crew of John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O'Carroll finished in 13th place in race three yesterday afternoon, putting them in 12th place overnight. The scheduled race four was cancelled yesterday evening due to low winds, but they will be back in action this afternoon.

Irish Independent

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