Bronze can be just the start for classy Clifford
Eoghan Clifford powered to a bronze medal in the C3 individual pursuit in Rio last night, crowning what has been a steep rise for the 36-year-old Galway cyclist, who made his debut in Paralympic sport just two years ago.
Clifford outpaced Canada's Michael Sametz - 16 years his junior - from the outset in last night's bronze medal race, clocking 3:40.201 for the 3000m distance.
"I didn't win that because I had better legs," said Clifford, who competes in the C3 category as a result of having a degenerative muscle disease. "I won it because I felt I would let so many people down if I didn't win a medal."
He will return to action in search of another podium finish next week when competing in the C3 time trial and road race, which are likely to play more to his strengths that last night's contest.
At the opposite end of the age spectrum, 14-year-old Nicole Turner also made a name for herself by finishing fifth in the S6 50m butterfly final last night, clocking a lifetime best of 37.31. The race was won by Britain's Ellie Robinson in 35.58.
"I don't really do nerves, but when I came out I was a bit nervous," she said. "The atmosphere was just incredible, a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
The 50m butterfly was the Laois swimmer's first stop in a busy schedule, with the 50m freestyle awaiting today and three other events to come next week.
On Thursday night, Down swimmer Bethany Firth struck gold in the pool. The 20-year-old, who represents Great Britain and Northern Ireland, set a world record of 1:04.05 for the S14 100m backstroke.
Elsewhere yesterday, cycling duo Katie-George Dunleavy and Eve McCrystal finished seventh in the WB tandem kilo, their time of 1:12.332 a sea-level personal best, while Colin Lynch came home fifth in his individual pursuit qualifying round in 3:53.300.
Rena McCarron Rooney opened her campaign in the table tennis singles class qualifier against China's Jing Liu but was outclassed from the start, losing in straight sets 11-9, 11-4, 11-2.
Looking ahead, Greta Streimikyte will be the leading hope in the athletics stadium this afternoon, competing in the T13 1500m final at 3.13pm, while tomorrow Michael McKillop will be the overwhelming favourite in the T37 1500m.
For the 7-a-side soccer team, the hope is to escape this evening's tie with Brazil with a result of any kind after losing 6-0 to Ukraine in their opening game.
"It was a tough opener but we're hoping to get out of the game with something," said coach Barry Ferguson. "There are improvements we can make and though we'll be up against it, we'll go out there and give the best performance we can."