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Paralympic Games: James MacSorley’s Team GB one win away from medal as Bethany Firth prepares for backstroke defence


James MacSorley in action for Team GB at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

James MacSorley in action for Team GB at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Getty Images

James MacSorley in action for Team GB at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

James MacSorley is one win away from a Paralympic medal after his Team GB side cruised past Canada in the wheelchair basketball quarter-finals.

Standing in the way is host nation Japan, after their 61-55 victory over Australia in their own quarter-final.

MacSorley was left on the bench during Team GB’s 66-52 quarter-final win over Canada but has played his part over the course of the reigning world champions’ Games campaign so far, involved in all but one of the pool matches.

The winners of that game will progress to the final on Sunday at 4.30am BST, with the bronze medal match at 2am on the same day.

MacSorley has already tasted a major gold medal with Team GB, part of the squad that won the World Championships in 2018.

Also in action in Tokyo today was Newtownards swimmer Barry McClements, who missed out on a place in the final of the SM9 200m individual medley by just over three second after clocking a time of 2:29.68. 

McClements’ final event, the men’s 100m butterfly takes place tomorrow, his heat scheduled for 1.36am BST.

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He has already finished seventh in the S9 men’s 100m backstroke with a personal best time of 1:05.76 but missed out on a place in the S9 men’s 400m freestyle final by less than a second in his opening swim last week.

Dungannon shooter Phil Eaglesham finished 21st of 38 competitors in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone with a score of 632. Having already placed 14th in the Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing, his final event is the Mixed 50m Rifle Prone on Saturday.

The headline of tomorrow’s schedule is Bethany Firth’s attempt to win a third successive Paralympic gold in her signature event, the SM14 100m backstroke, with the heats scheduled for 2.16am BST and the final due to begin at 10.10am.

“It has been very difficult for Bethy to work on all the strokes for the medley because of the shoulder injuries she has had over the past 12 months,” admitted her Ards coach Nelson Lindsay. “There were literally times when she was out of the pool so blocks of training were missed.

“With the backstroke, the timing can come back in a moment. That’s how it worked before the Europeans in 2018 in Dublin. It didn’t seem quite at the level she wanted but then it clicked and she got the gold. I’m hoping that it will be the same in Tokyo.”

Firth is chasing not just her ninth all-time Paralympic medal but a sixth gold, having already scooped one win and two silvers in Tokyo despite her disrupted preparation, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a shoulder injury.

Also in action is fellow Ards SC swimmer McClements and Boccia star Claire Taggart as the BC1/BC2 Team event gets under way.

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