Brown suffers medal agony
Portaferry’s James Brown and his paracycle tandem pilot Damien Shaw from Mullingar narrowly missed out on a podium place in the bronze medal ride-off in the 4km Individual Pursuit B competition at the Velodrome.
The pair clocked a time of 4:26.075 to finish outside the medals in fourth place behind the Spanish duo Miguel Angel Clemente Solano and Diego Javier Munoz.
In a titanic duel the Spaniards set the pace early on, leading the Irish by just 0.4 of a second before Brown and Shaw put on a push approaching the halfway mark, and reversed the lead.
They ran out of steam allowing the Spanish pair to come back and regain the advantage and they went on to increase it all the way to the finish.
“I’m pleased to be here, pleased to be near the top, but disappointed not to be on the podium,” said the visually impaired 47-year-old who is competing in his fifth Paralympics having represented Great Britain previously in both summer and winter Games in athletics, cross-country ski-ing and biathlon.
“Fourth is still a good result whatever way you look at it. We haven’t been together that long and I’m very happy to just be here, its been a fabulous experience.”
Brown was looking to add to the two gold medals he won in the 800m and 1500m in 1984.
In the morning qualifying Brown and Shaw clocked a time of 4:25.557 to finish as the fourth fastest qualifiers and they’ll now look forward to the 1km time trial on Saturday and then the road race and time trial next week.
“The cycling is a different ball game altogether,” he said.
“There has been a great elevation of Paralympic sport over all those years, but I’ve never worked in an environment like this where we have proper professional coaching and sports science and medical back up.
“In the old days it was a little bit more haphazard and amateur but its much more methodical and professional now.”
The two men have only been together since Christmas and competed for the first time in February.
Brown continued: “We will improve with more time together, we are racing against full-time professional bike riders whilst holding down a business and jobs.
“If we get a chance to spend more time training together on a full-time basis we will no doubt build on these results.”
Shaw added: “We’ve done quite well in the time we’ve been allowed. Obviously we’re hungry for training and hungry for success and that’s what we want to do, we want to stay together and go further.”
Armagh’s Eilish Byrne had a strong opening ride on Youri in the Equestrian Team Test — Grade II at a packed and damp Greenwich Park.
Her mark of 67.15 per cent put Ireland into seventh place with the other team members to go today.
Speaking afterwards Byrne said: “I felt I dealt with this well. I tried to stay relaxed and dealt with the crowd really well. Overall I am quite pleased.”
Meanwhile, competing for Great Britain was Sharon Vennard who made her Paralympics debut in the ranking round of archery’s individual recurve at the Royal Artillery Barracks.
Vennard, from Greyabbey in Co. Down, has Osteoarthritis, which can affect her balance and causes her constant pain, but despite those difficulties she has become one of the top archers in the country.
In qualifying she ranked sixth hitting 549 and will begin the knockout stages of the competition tomorrow.
As well as athletes Jason Smyth and Sally Brown the two local swimmers in the Ireland team will also in action today.
Fifteen-year-old Bethany Firth from Seaford in Co. Down is in the heats of the 100m backstroke S14 looking for a place in the evening final while Rostrevor’s Laurence McGivern goes in the 100m backstroke S9 in which he is eighth in the world rankings.