Sligo swimming star Mona McSharry turned in a stunning performance to qualify for the 100m breaststroke final in Tokyo today, the first Irish swimmer to make an Olympic final for 25 years. The 20-year-old clocked 1:06.59 to finish fourth in her semi-final, her time quick enough to see her through to tomorrow’s final in eighth place.
“I’m over the moon. That was the target, make it round by round and when I got to the semi-finals it was the plan to try make it into the final,” she said.
“I knew it was going to be tough. I was in ninth, already having moved up from my starting position so I knew it was going to be a push, everyone is swimming really fast and it’s competitive. I’m just so happy to get another opportunity to race tomorrow.”
McSharry admitted there was some grogginess this morning following a late night after her heat, her time today not quite as swift as she swam in the heats.
“I’m not surprised about that but I’m happier with how the race felt so I’m hoping I can pull the two together and swim a fast time hopefully like that.”
Her plans between now and the final?
“I’m going to relax, have a shower, chill, I might come in tonight for a paddle. I’ll definitely come in and watch Ellen (Walshe) and Brendan (Hyland) race, that’ll be fun, just being a spectator for the night. I’ll try get to bed earlier tonight if I can.”
McSharry said she was reveling in the Olympic experience and making friends beyond the swimming contingent at what is her first Games.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “That’s the great thing about the Irish spirit as well: we are very close as a nation.”
Her achievement marks an incredible entrance on the Olympic stage for the Grange swimmer, a scholarship student at the University of Tennessee. McSharry, of course, has long been a name marked to make waves at this level, ever since winning gold and bronze medals at the 2017 World Junior Championships.