Sunday 15 September 2019

Kelly calls it quits in reaction to new system

Dias has already seen five of his world records broken because swimmers who used to be in the S6 class (less impaired than S5) have been reclassified into his S5 class (stock photo)
Dias has already seen five of his world records broken because swimmers who used to be in the S6 class (less impaired than S5) have been reclassified into his S5 class (stock photo)

Cliona Foley

Irish Paralympic swimmer Ailbhe Kelly will retire after her final race at the World Para-Swimming Championships in London today. Kelly is calling it a day because of the sport's controversial new classification system.

The 20-year-old made four European finals last year and was just a second outside her own personal best when she swam 5:32.96 in the S8 400m freestyle yesterday. However, she only finished seventh in her heat, almost 30 seconds behind the winner.

"I still love swimming and it has given me so much but I've come to this decision because of the changes, particularly with the classification and the way it has affected me personally," Kelly said.

"It's really difficult to be competitive as an S8. It's really hard to race when there's no-one beside you, like my heat (yesterday)."

Brazil's Daniel Dias and American star Jessica Long, two superstars in para-swimming with over a dozen Paralympic titles each, are already leading an outcry over the sport's new classification system.

Dias has already seen five of his world records broken because swimmers who used to be in the S6 class (less impaired than S5) have been reclassified into his S5 class.

Ellen Keane leads the Irish team's medal hopes in London. She and Kelly are part of the Irish women's 4x100m medley relay team today.

Irish Independent

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