GAY SHELLY WINS BOCCIA BRONZE FOR IRELAND AT PARALYMPIC GAMES
Ireland’s Gay Shelly sensationally won an individual bronze medal in the Boccia* competition (BC1 class) at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games this morning (2.30am Irish time). Carlow based Shelly beat hometown favourite Yi Wang of China 6-2 in front of a packed home crowd, roared on by a vocal Irish contingent. This is Shelly’s second Paralympic medal having won gold in Sydney 2000 and the Bagenalstown man now claims the honour of being Ireland’s first medalist at these 13th Paralympic Games.
Earlier in the morning Shelly had contested the semi-final but failed to find the form he is so well known for, and suffered defeat to long time rival Antonio Marques of Portugal 4-1. In the intervening hour or so between the semi-final and the play-off for bronze the Irish captain regrouped and brought his best game to the floor in the decider.
Afterwards, an overjoyed Shelly spoke to the assembled press; “I’m absolutely over the moon to medal! I had a plan about how to play it; I had done some work on him (Marques).”
The victory was all the more sweet as Wang had ended Padraic Moran’s bid in the individual event yesterday in that gripping tie break after their drawn quarter-final match. Shelly revealed Moran had a hand in his win; “My team mate Padraic helped me with the strategy; he gave me ideas about how to play him after yesterday. He advised me to go long on him so I did and it really worked; I felt strong mentally too.”
With the team competition getting underway tomorrow Ireland’s captain fantastic was in no doubt as to where his immediate priorities lay; “There’s no time to celebrate right now, we need to focus on the team event now.”
Boccia team manager and coach Jacquie Connolly said: “This was a great performance. Gay is a role model to all those potential players back home. We have had great support from the Paralympic Council of Ireland and the Irish Sports Council to get us to this point. This is a marvellous result for the whole team; it’s just a dream come true.”
At the velodrome in Laoshan, the Irish cycling team continued their successful campaign with Catherine Walsh and her sighted pilot rider Joanna Hickey setting a new Irish record in the Women’s Individual Pursuit (B&VI Class) with a time of 3.50.515, shaving over 2.5 seconds off their previous best. Dubliner Enda Smyth also competed this morning in the Men’s 1km Time Trial (CP4 Class). Smyth finished in seventh position, maginally outside his personal best, with a time of 1.16.074.
Elsewhere, in a great morning for the Irish at the Water Cube, three Irish swimmers were in action. Coalisland man, Jonathan Cummings (S6 Class) began his campaign in the men’s 100m Breaststroke. Cummings clocked a time of 1.29.92 to finish eighth overall, booking himself a place in this evening’s final (10.10am Irish time). Teenager Ellen Keane returned to the pool in her favoured event; the 100m backstroke (SB8Class). Impressively Keane finished second in her heat with a personal best time of 1.27.61, also booking herself a place in tonight’s final (1.11pm). Tyrone’s Stephen Campbell made his Paralympic debut in the 100m butterfly (S11 Class) heats. With a time of 1.16.28 the vision impaired athlete was just outside his own PB, finishing 10th overall.
Later today Ireland’s Cathal Miller races in the final of the 1km time trial in the veledrome (LC1 class) with Kathleen Reynolds in table tennis action and Archer Sean Heary gets his Paralympic campaign underway. In Qingdao both Ireland’s sailing boats will contest races 3, 4 and 5 with Irish flag bearer Patrice Dockery the only Irish athlete to compete in the Bird’s Nest tonight in the heats of the Wheelchair T53 400m.
*Boccia is a form of bowls for athletes with severe physical disabilities and is hugely popular in the Paralympic movement.
PLEASE NOTE: FURTHER IRISH RESULTS AND NEWS TO FOLLOW LATER
For Further Information contact the press officers to the Irish team in Beijing:
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