Thursday, September 2, 2021

Shaw and Lawlor reflect on debut Paralympic Games

As Toni Shaw and Louis Lawlor completed their debut Paralympic Games, Great Britain finished the penultimate night of swimming on 25 medals, adding another three to their tally in the S14 100m backstroke with gold for Bethany Firth and bronzes for Jessica-Jane Applegate and Reece Dunn.

For Toni Shaw, it was an evening of fourth places, with the University of Aberdeen athlete just finishing shy of the podium in the S9 100m butterfly and as part of the 34pt 4x100m medley relay.

At the start of the evening, Shaw put in another strong display in the final of the S9 100m butterfly, where she finished just shy of the medals in fourth. The 18-year-old finished in a time of 1:08.87, a season’s best time, and a good improvement from her heat.

Gold went to Zsofia Konkoly (HUN) in a new Paralympic Record time of 106.55, with World Championships bronze medallist from London 2019, Elizabeth Smith (USA), moving up a medal place to secure silver in 1:08.22. Sarai Gascon (ESP) finished the podium line-up with bronze in 1:08.43.

Shaw returned for the final race of the night, the 34pt 4x100m medley relay alongside team-mates  Stephanie Millward, Maisie Summers-Newton and Zara Mullooly.

The quartet all swam hard, and Mullooly narrowed the gap considerably during the freestyle leg, but on this occasion, GBR finished fourth in a time of 4:58.76. USA won gold in 4:52.40, RPC the silver in 4:55.55 and Australia finished off a great night in the pool with bronze in 4:55.70. Shaw commented on her performances and said,

“Relays are my absolute favourite so as long as I can be in a relay I’ll be in a relay. These girls are all such good friends so it would have been great to have won a medal together, that would have been something special. We all tried our hardest.”

Speaking about her individual butterfly final, Shaw said,

“I was actually happy with my time. I haven’t done much fly training as I’ve been focusing more on the freestyle events, things like distance. But while I was happy enough with it, I’m really disappointed to have come fourth. As I’ve said before nobody likes to come fourth.

“It was such a fast race, there are world record holders, Paralympic Champions, all those people in that race, so I knew it was going to be hard. I think I just have to be happy with my performances during the Games and then back training after a bit of a holiday.”

Speaking about her debut Paralympic Games, Shaw continued,

“These are my first Games so I’ve nothing to compare this experience to. It has been incredible to be in a place like Japan, the volunteers have been so warm and friendly, clapping and cheering us off the bus. The team have also been very supportive of one another and that has been great.”

Looking to the future, Shaw finished by saying,

“I’m moving away from home and going to University in Stirling, so a new club and the start of my degree, things will definitely be different, but I am looking forward to it.”

Louis Lawlor’s Paralympic competition started and finished today with the 19-year-old contesting the final of the S14 100m backstroke, after a strong heat swim this morning.

Lawlor, who won bronze in the event at his debut World Championships in London in 2019, couldn’t quite match the pace of his earlier performance and he finished in eighth in a time of 1:01.80.

Gold went to Ben Hance (AUS) in a new Paralympic Record time of 57.73, while gold medallist from London, Viacheslav Emeliantsev (RPC) won silver in 59.05. Lawlor’s team-mate, Reece Dunn won his fifth medal of the Games, with bronze in 59.97.

Lawlor said of his performance,

“I’m a bit disappointed with the time, it was a bit slower than this morning, but that was my first swim here and my only swim here, so I’ve got to be pretty happy with it.  I stuck to my race plan, done everything that I should have. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work today but better I know there will be other opportunities to come. My experience here has definitely made me hungry for Paris in a few years time, where I’ll do everything I can to get on that podium.”

Speaking about team-mate Reece Dunn, who won bronze in the final to add to his impressive haul of three golds and a silver, Lawlor said,

“I definitely look up to Reece, he’s older and has a lot more experience. He’s been good to give me advice and I listen to it and take it on board.”

Lawlor’s final words were about his coach at City of Glasgow Swim Team, Danielle Brayson. He said,

“I need to say a big thank you to Danielle for everything she’s done, the work she’s put in just to get me to this level, through all the tears, the sweat and the crying. I couldn’t thank her enough for getting me here, I am just so grateful to her.”

Full details on all the ParalympicsGB swimmers, go to the British Swimming website.

The start lists, schedule and results can be found HERE.

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