Wednesday 21 March 2018

Homecoming for world champion Mona McSharry

Jessica Farry

Monday was just an ordinary day for Mona McSharry - getting up and going to school in Ballyshannon.

For now, Mona is focused on getting back to reality with the new school year starting - another normal year.

But on Sunday evening Mona was given a huge welcome home in Grange, to celebrate her remarkable swimming achievements at the World Junior Championships in Indianapolis.

In the space of eight weeks, the newly crowned World Champion won World and European 100m Breaststroke Gold, World Bronze and European Gold in the 50m Breaststroke and European 200m Breaststroke Silver.

Mona placed fourth in the 200m event last Monday.

Not only did Mona pick up medals, she also did something that no Irish person has done before.

Mona became Ireland's first ever World Junior Champion - an incredible feat.

"School was fine. There was a lot of people saying congratulations to me and that, but otherwise it was grand, nothing too hectic!

"I'm trying to get back to reality now. You don't feel any different, it's strange," she told The Sligo Champion.

Being the centre of attention isn't what Mona has always been used to, but as she adjusts to all the attention, she realises that she has the support of not just her community, but Ireland as well.

"Sometimes it's a lot but it also means that there is so much support out there for me and that means the world to me.

"The support from my community has been huge. The homecomings have been amazing and it's nice to see that people care, not just about me but about young athletes too.

"You do need all the support that you can get when you are in this," she added.

Mona says her goal at the start of the year was to reach the World Juniors and a final.

Having achieved that, Mona then went on to surprise even herself with her massive achievements.

"I did surprise myself. In the back of your mind you are always telling yourself that you can do it but you don't want to get ahead of yourself.

"There's no words to describe the feeling standing there on the podium. Watching the Irish flag rising, knowing that all of the hard work has paid off and been worth it.

"It's just an amazing feeling," she added.

Mona admits that the last two months have been somewhat of a whirlwind for her, working hard to reach her goals.

"It's been tough at times. When I came back from the Europeans I went straight into training for the worlds and it's been a long season.

"That was tough, not just physically but mentally too,

"I'm so thankful for my friends and family who really did help me through that, and helped me to keep going.

"I'm so happy with how everything went," she added.

For now, Mona says she will be taking a much deserved two week break as she tries to settle back into reality.

Next up for Mona is the Senior European Short Course Swimming Championships in Copenhagen this December.

Sligo will undoubtedly continue to celebrate Mona's fantastic achievements, as we prepare to hear an awful lot more about the Grange swimmer in the very near future.

Sligo Champion