SHANE Ryan returned to the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in style on Day Six, setting a new Irish Senior Record in the Men’s 100m Butterfly. Ryan finished 4th in Heat 3, clocking a time of 52.52, to break Brendan Hyland’s previous best of 52.58. His time gave him an overall finishing position of 37th – 11 places above his pre-race ranking.
It was a good day on the water for sailor Annalise Murphy, who finished in 1st and 2nd place in Race 7 and 8 respectively to move her into 14th position overall ahead of tomorrow’s final two fleet races.
In the Eventing Team, there will be a change in the line-up in tomorrow’s competition due to a veterinary issue with Cathal Daniels’ horse, Rioghan Rua. Tomorrow is the first day of competition, with the team competing in the dressage phase. Austin O’Connor and Colorado Blue (SHBGB) will now take Daniels’ position in the team as number two in the second session of dressage tomorrow.
The Men’s Individual Stroke Play began in Tokyo today with Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy representing Team Ireland at Kasumigaseki County Club. After a two-hour delay due to lightning in the area, play resumed at 4.15pm local time, where McIlroy and Lowry were playing the 14th hole.
Despite a missed birdie opportunity on the restart, McIlroy bounced back with another on 15 before closing out his opening round of 69, 2-under par. Now officially an Olympian, he has had time to reflect on what that means to him and for golf generally.
“It felt pretty good,” he reflected. “As a golfer, when golf first got into the Olympics I had a feeling of what it would mean for the game – but you get a different feeling and perspective once you’re here, and it’s cool. Our sport is so new that you have to put yourself in a position to think further down the line. I think the Olympics in 20 or 30 years’ time is going to be on a par with the Majors we play.”
The last three events that both McIlroy and Lowry have played have been in vastly different conditions to Tokyo where there is high humidity and heat, but McIlroy doesn’t feel this will affect his game.
“I prefer these conditions than what we faced in Scotland and The Open. I’m more comfortable in these conditions. I live in the States and am used to the heat, but it has been a long day, just with delays and the heat, so I’m looking forward to getting back, getting some food, get into bed and doing it all again tomorrow.”
Meanwhile Shane Lowry closed with a round of 70 on a day where he struggled to gain momentum, but the Offaly golfer is confident of his ability to progress up the leader board.
“I feel like I played OK, I hit a lot of greens but hit it to 30-40 feet most of the day so I feel a bit frustrated. I didn’t really hit it on the fairway off the tee enough. There are a few parts of my game that I need to brush up on, but I feel like I putted quite well, I just was so far away that you’re not really holing much. I think I need to be a bit more aggressive tomorrow on my approach play. There are three rounds left, so you just need to play your own game and be patient.”
McIlroy and Lowry begin their second rounds tomorrow from 00:25am Irish time.
The hard decision was made to withdraw Sanita Puspure from the B Final of the Women’s Single, set to take place tomorrow, due to her being unwell.
Speaking this evening, Puspure said: “Over the past few days I have not been well, and I had to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the Olympic Regatta. This is really disappointing, as I had been going well over the past few months and had hoped to continue this good form. The Olympics is always a big goal so it’s heartbreaking to have to pull out in this manner.”
The Team Ireland Men’s 49er skiff of Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove are lying in 13th place at the Olympic Regatta in Enoshima, while Annalise Murphy is sitting in 14th place of the Women’s Laser Radial.
The Men’s 49ers had posted a second and a sixth for the day, coming on top of a race win on Tuesday, which initially moved them into seventh position. However, when the fleet of nineteen 49ers arrived ashore, they were routinely spot-checked by the official equipment measurers. In two cases – Ireland and Brazil – it was found that the trapeze harnesses used by the sailors to hang from wires to balance the boat were slightly in excess of the permitted weight. This amount was 90 grams for the Irish equipment. The measurers then lodged a protest as the official complaint procedure in sailing, which was heard by the International Jury who deliberated for almost two hours. The decision was that both Ireland and Brazil were disqualified from both of today’s races. Dickson and Waddilove now drop to 13th place overall, leaving six races to recover for a place in Monday’s medal race final.
“Although Rob and Sean are hugely disappointed by this ruling, we need to refocus and do our best in the remaining races,” said James O’Callaghan, Performance Director with Irish Sailing. “The issue still needs to be addressed by the class how equipment so widely used by the whole fleet could still be found to be slightly overweight at the Olympic Games.”
The harness includes a removable back support that even when included, meets the target weight of two kilos. The Irish crew had measured their harnesses on three separate occasions prior to departure for Tokyo and each time, were found to be compliant.
Meanwhile, Annalise Murphy still has two races on Friday to see if she can reach Sunday’s medal race final in the women’s single-handed event. Thrilled with her return to form even at this late stage of the regatta, she also paid tribute to Ireland’s rowers for the gold and bronze medals over the past 24 hours.
Her two strong results have pushed her up the positions into 14th place ahead of the final two races (Race 9 and 10) which take place tomorrow. The top 10 overall will progress to the medal race.
Speaking afterwards, Murphy said: “I guess I’m just delighted that I finally managed to put together a good day. You start to doubt if you’re actually good enough to be doing this, or maybe you’ve just forgotten how to sail! So to be able to go out and win a race, and then to be second in the second race – yes I was really happy.
“It was really fun having wind and waves. It wasn’t as windy as we thought it was going to be, but still nice wind, and really nice waves. We’ve had offshore, the wind coming off the land, so quite flat water, so today was the wind coming from the sea so really big waves which made it a lot of fun, particularly on the down winds.
“I think I realised that I put so much pressure on myself to try and do well here. When I realised that I had kind of messed it up, I just had to go out and actually enjoy the sailing and enjoy the racing and take it one race at a time; try and do the simple stuff right and hopefully then, I would get some good races.”
Looking ahead to the big races tomorrow she added: “I just have to go out tomorrow and enjoy the racing and sail well. I can’t really do anything fancy – I just have to keep on chipping away, and hopefully I can pull out two more good results.”
Shane Ryan returned to the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in style on Day Six, setting a new Irish Senior Record in the Men’s 100m Butterfly. Ryan finished 4th in Heat 3, clocking a time of 52.52, to break Brendan Hyland’s previous best of 52.58. His time gave him an overall finishing position of 37th – 11 places above his pre-race ranking.
Ryan withdrew from the 100m Backstroke earlier this week due to a shoulder issue when doing the stroke, but showed no signs of discomfort during today’s swim. After the race, Ryan spoke of the team spirit among the Team Ireland swimmers, saying: “the atmosphere is just great, everyone’s just bouncing off each other, there’s no negativity whatsoever…they’re just so supportive no matter what you do, I heard them up at the stairs cheering for me – I always give them a little look because I’m not only swimming for myself, but for them as well and everyone back at home.”
The action continues in Tokyo tomorrow (Day Seven, July 30th, 2021), with athletics getting underway, the golfers back in action for Round 2 of the Men’s Individual Stroke Play, Kellie Harrington will enter the ring for her first bout, the hockey team face a tough and vital clash against India, the sailors face into some big races, while the equestrian team will also be in action. The swimmers will once again round out the evening with Danielle Hill and Daniel Wiffen both in action.