Swimming sensation Darragh Mc Donald, aged just 14, won Paralympic silver in the 400m freestyle (S6 class) in the Water Cube in Beijing.
McDonald had qualified second fastest from the morning's two heats, when he swam a massive PB and new Irish record of 5:13.68 to win heat one.
In front of his parents Caroline and Derek, many Irish team mates, and a packed Water Cube, the Gorey swimmer destroyed his morning's record when he hit the wall in 5:09.75 for second place.
Race winner in a stunning world record time of 4:48.31 was the reigning world champion Anders Olsson of Sweden. McDonald, a member of the Asgard Swim Club in Arklow where he is coached by John Keely was in second place by the first turn and continued to stretch his lead over the next 300m. By the finish, he had 10.7 seconds to spare over Matt Whorwood of Great Britain who took bronze.
“Coming here my objective was to make a final. I thought that is as close as I thought I would get to anything. I never thought I’d get this near this fast. It’s great; I never thought anything like this could happen,” McDonald said after.
His unexpected medal brings the Irish tally to four at these Games after Jason Smyth's sensational 100m (T13) win on the track on Saturday, Micheal McKillop's 800m (T37) victory on Wednesday, and boccia bronze medal winner Gay Shelly on Tuesday last.
Also in the 400m (S6) , Johnny Cummings swam in the same heat as McDonald, finishing fifth in a personal best time of 5:50.54, nearly three seconds off his previous mark.
Setting up a play-off for fifth position against the Netherlands was the Irish 7-1-side football team who beat China 4-1. Goal scorers for Ireland were Gary Messett after ten minutes, Alan O’Hara 12 minutes, and both O'Hara and Messett again early in the second half. Only in the final five minutes did the Chinese pull one back.
“I can’t wait to play Holland now. I am sure Holland were up there in the stands and would look at the second half and saying we can beat these. They won’t find it easy though. Fifth or sixth place now, our performance here is an improvement on Athens. We achieved what we set out to do and considering the week we’ve had, it’s brilliant,” said manager Paul Cassin.
Cassin’s Irish team finished eighth at the Athens Games four years ago.
Irish flag bearer Patrice Dockery concluded her Paralympic career on the track when she finished sixth in the second heat of the 200m (T53 Class) in a time of 35.38secs.
“I gave it everything, I have no regrets”, said Dockery, one of Ireland’s most distinguished and well loved Paralympians. A former European and World championship medal winner, Dockery retires after 23 years representing Ireland on the international stage.
In the spectacular Ming’s Tomb road cycling venue, the last of Ireland’s bikes were in action today. Catherine Walsh with sighted pilot rider Joanna Hickey and Michael Delaney with sighted pilot rider David Peelo, both took part in the Road Race (B&VI Class). Delaney and Peelo covered the 96.8km distance in a time of 2.29.32, finishing 16th, fourteen minutes behind the winners Poland. Walsh and Hickey finished 9th on the women’s 72.6km course, with a time of 2:03.14.
Today(Monday), the penultimate day of competition for the Irish at these Games, sees Jason Smyth running the 200m heats (T13) and Dunmanway’s John McCarthy competing in his favoured field event, the club throw.