Olympics

Ellen Keane Bubbles With Joy After Winning Paralympic Gold

Ellen Keane Bubbles With Joy After Winning Paralympic Gold

The smile on Ellen Keane's face was nearly as wide as the pool in which she'd just won gold as she spoke to RTÉ after her performance in Tokyo.

The 26-year-old from Dublin won Ireland's first medal of the Paralympic Games on Thursday morning. She touched the wall just ahead of Paralympic legend Sophie Pascoe to win the SB8 100m breaststroke final.

"When I dove in, my goggles filled up with water," Keane told RTÉ.

"I think that was a good thing because I couldn't see where the girls were around me; just on the turn, I saw Sophie a little bit. I had a game plan in mind, and stuck to that.

"The last thing my coach said before I went in was 'If I need to push you home in a wheelchair [I will], I want those legs wrecked'. That's exactly what I did."

Keane was the fastest qualifier for the final. In the heats, which were held in the early hours of Thursday morning (Irish time), she broke a long standing personal best. In the final, she smashed it again, swimming 1:19.93.

ellen keane interview gold medal paralympics 2020 tokyo

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26 August 2021; Ellen Keane of Ireland with her gold medal after winning the Women's SB8 100 metre breaststroke final at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre on day two during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

"I texted my boyfriend after my heat," she said.

"He was really happy for me going in first. I was like, 'I don't care what happens, if I go sub 1:20, I'll be happy'. That's exactly what I did."

This is Keane's fourth Paralympic Games. She made her debut as a 13-year-old in 2008. Five years ago in Rio, she won bronze in the same event in which she claimed gold on Thursday.

"I thought I would have won a gold medal a long time ago," she said.

"It did get to me throughout the years, just having that break, having that time off, made me miss the sport, made me fall in love with the sport again.

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"I knew coming here that this was another opportunity, an opportunity to enjoy it, and see what I'm capable of. I didn't put any pressure on myself for a medal. I just wanted a PB. When I finished, I turned to the girls and I was like, 'It only took eight years for me to get a PB'.

"I took a break from social media because I felt like it was distracting me a bit. Even going online, I felt the nerves creeping in.

"For this games, I wanted to be as present as possible. That's really what I've been doing. I think this is the first Games I've been at where I've not been nervous. I've been so calm.

"Even last night, I was a little bit worried about how calm I was. Then this morning for the heats, I was a little bit nervous.

"For the final, I was calm again. I just knew I was capable of doing something great. It was about trusting that, and trusting myself.

"I'm nearly glad that the Games were postponed because I've had that time to really work on myself. I usually get really nervous going into competitions. The past 18 months, I've learnt to trust myself."

Ellen Keane interview after winning Paralympic gold

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ellen keane interview gold medal paralympics 2020 tokyo

PJ Browne
Article written by
Kerryman. Write mostly about Gaelic games and athletics. Did not win a 2008 NBA title with the Boston Celtics.

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