Portarlington’s Nicole Turner will return home a Paralympic silver medallist after she produced the swim of her life in the S6 50m Butterfly event, to claim a stunning silver medal.
The 19-year-old was ranked third coming into the event but qualified for the final with the second fastest time overall. China’s Yuyan Jiang, who took gold in the final, broke the world and Paralympic record during the heats.
It marks a significant breakthrough for Turner who has improved on all the promise she showed at her debut Games in Rio 5 years ago. In 2016, Turner reached five finals in all of the events she competed in. This time around, Tuner has competed in three events and has also made it to all of the finals but perhaps more significantly, she is now a silver medallist.
Nicole Turner wins silver medal in the 50m butterfly (S6)! It's Ireland's fourth medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. #rtesport #paralympics #paraswimming https://t.co/fWFiuv09nB pic.twitter.com/jkm2aI8HSt
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 30, 2021
The eight-time European medallist got off to a brilliant start as she sprung off the platform and emerged from under the water in second place. With Yuyan Jiang on her left, Turner showed great character to not get distracted and swim her own race.
With 25M to go, Turner showed great determination and experience to hold off a late challenge and clinch her silver medal in the final metre of her favoured in Tokyo. Coming into the Games, Turner’s PB in the 50m Butterfly was 36,75s. After lowering that to 36.54s in her heat earlier, the Portarlington star obliterated that in the final with a stunning time of 35.30s.
An overjoyed Nicole Turner was shaking with excitement as she spoke to @Darrenfrehill about her brilliant silver medal swim https://t.co/WnFPRxuuVq #rtesport #paralympics #paraswimming pic.twitter.com/t1l0aTCVo5
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) August 30, 2021
‘I thought I’d be in a fight for bronze here so to get silver, I’m just in shock! In those last few strokes all I was thinking was that it hurt badly but just keep going. No one will go down without a fight and I certainly gave it a fight. ‘
Elsewhere in the pool, Limerick teenager Roisin Ni Riain continued her brilliant run in the pool by qualifying for her fourth final from five events. She was third in her heat of the S13 SM 200m Individual Medley and finished sixth in the final with a time of 2:34.12. While slightly disappointed with her swim, Ni Riain should take inspiration from Nicole Turner who made it to the final in all of her races on her Paralympics Debut and then went on to medal at her second Games.
“I’m quite disappointed because my PB is 2:33 but I’ve had a lot of events and a few finals so far. It’s just about putting your head down and focussing each race one at a time and I have a day off tomorrow and then the 100m Breaststroke on Wednesday.”
Kerrie Leonard’s brilliant Paralympic Games experience was brough to an end this morning under the blazing Tokyo Sun by Stepanida Artakhinova of the Russian Paralympic Committee.
Leonard was in contention throughout the head to head 1/8 round match until the 3rd end where Leonard shot a costly 24 compared to her opponents 29. She did manage to win the next end with a superb 29 but the damage had been done at this stage and Artakhinova was able to see it out for the win. Leonard was pleased with her first Paralympic experience and is already looking forward to more. She became the first Irish archer in 13-years to compete at the Paralympic Games.
‘It’s amazing to have made the last 16 in the Paralympics and it shows, if you’re given the opportunity, just how much you can do if you go for it.’
“It’s not about ‘oh I’m the best para-archer’. No I’m one of the best archers in the country regardless of ability versus disability”
We caught up with Kerrie Leonard who is hoping to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics.
— Her Sport (@HerSportDotIE) March 3, 2020