MORE SUCCESS FOR TEAM IRELAND AS MARK ROHAN AND CATHERINE O’NEILL WIN GOLD AND SILVER
Mark Rohan has stamped his authority on the Men’s H1 category in the world of Paracycling, by adding a Gold Medal in the Road Race to the Gold he won in the Time Trial earlier this week. The pressure of being the World Number 1 ranked rider spurred on Rohan, who dictated the pace of the race in the second half of the 48km event. Fankhauser, the Swiss man, took silver just 2 seconds behind Rohan. Defending Paralympic Champion Schattauer, from Austria, took Bronze a further 15 seconds back.
The ten starters in the H1 Handcycling Road Race were whittled down to six after the first lap, with all the favourites still in contention. In what became a war of attrition this bunch depleted as the laps were clocked. The cyclist were to complete 6 laps of the 8km loop.
After 36km Rohan made his move
“Myself and my coach Brian Nugent had a plan before the race. I knew if I was there after four and a half laps I could take it”.
This was the longest race that Rohan has raced to date, although he clocks between 15 and 20 hours of handcycling per week.
Fankhauser raced an impressive race to stick with the Irish powerhouse, with Beijing Paralympic Champion Schauttauer (Austria) battling hard to keep on track, holding onto a respectable Bronze.
After the medal ceremony a slightly more melancholy Rohan reflected on the journey to this double gold medal.
“It has been a tough ten years, and to end with this…
“I have always given 100% to sport. Sport is sport, whether it is in an able bodied competition or a disabled competition. The emotions are the same”
After this Rohan will take a short break where he will turn his hand at a few more sports before re-focusing on the 2016 Games. He also plans to study Sports Development.
“I want to promote disability sports. I want to show people that there are real opportunities out there in sport if you have a disability. I think I will get a lot of satisfaction out of that.”
With two Paralympic Games already under her belt, one of Ireland’s most experienced field event athletes, Catherine O’Neill, now has a first medal to her name taking silver in the Women’s Discus Throw – F51/52/53 this morning with a Seasonal Best throw of 5.66m.
The New Ross athlete could not contain her delight as she said,
“My plan was to relax and throw a solid distance early to put pressure on the others. I knew they had been going all week. It was baking out there and the noise in the stadium is unbearable particularly when a British athlete was in action. I just needed to stay relaxed.”
Having competed in both the 2000 Sydney and 2008 Beijing Paralympics with a best finish of 4th in the Discus in Sydney, Catherine did not hide here relief at finally landing an elusive medal.
“I have been waiting for this for a long time. This is my third Paralympics and you cannot understand how much this means to me. I want to thank those who have supported me an stood by me.”
Eventual winner Josie Pearson threw a World Record 6.58m and the loss of her World Record was the only low point for an otherwise jubilant O’Neill but she promised to fight hard to regain her record.
“I lost my world record today and don’t quite know how to think about that. I will enjoy the moment and look to chase that record back next year.”
Head of Paralympics Ireland Athletics, James Nolan commented,
“I am delighted with Catherine’s performance. Her preparation has been very professional. Catherine had a fall during her warm up and I was worried how that might impact her performance but she put that to the back of her mind and just focussed on her performance.”
Nolan also revealed the strategy behind today’s performance and indeed how the Wexford woman hit her targets.
“Catherine, myself and her Coach Michael Bergon identified between us that 5.65 – 5.70 would finish top three. Catherine went out and executed in her first throw. Coming into this Championship the Goal was to get Orla or Catherine on a Paralympic Games podium but for both to achieve this is beyond expectation “
Catherine previously won gold in the Discus at the 1998 Birmingham World Championships. She also won gold in Discus and silver in the Club at the IPC World Athletic Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2011. She can now add a well deserved Paralympic silver medal to an already impressive haul.
Men’s Individual H1 Road Race
Result: 1. M Rohan (IRL) 1:53.09, 2. T Fankhauser (SUI) 1:53.11, 3. W Schattauer (AUT) 1:53.24
Women’s Discus Throw – F51/52/53:
Result: 1. J Pearson (GB) 6.58m, 2. C O’Neill (IRL) 5.66m, 3. Z Cole (USA) 5.25m
Discus Throw F32/33/34 Final
200m T13 Final