The town of Ballyshannon in County Donegal is “bursting with pride” after Sligo native Mona McSharry swam in an Olympic final last night.
McSharry became the first Irish swimmer to compete in an Olympic final for 25 years when she took to the water for the 100m Breaststroke in the early hours of this morning.
The 20-year-old from Grange, County Sligo finished up in eighth place and is now turning her attention to the 200m event, which gets underway tomorrow.
On Lunchtime Live this morning, her coach Grace Meade said McSharry, who trained and went to school in Ballyshannon, had gone “beyond all expectations” by qualifying for the final.
“The plan was just to get to Tokyo 2020,” she said. “Qualify, go out and enjoy it, take in the experience and live in the moment so that we would then be ready for 2024 and know what to expect,” she said.
“But to get into a final in her first Olympics that is just amazing. You can’t buy that experience so she will be well set up now over the next couple of years with the NCAAs in America and then the 2024 Olympics in Paris.”
"Bursting with pride"
She said members of the Marlins Swim Club in Ballyshannon are “bursting with pride”, alongside everyone else in the town.
“Even kids that aren’t in the club, you know, you are inspiring young ones in all sports to know that, with a bit of hard work and commitment and you can do it too,” she said. “You can live the dream, as they say.
“She is such an inspiration and the club is just absolutely buzzing.”
She said McSharry has shown “huge commitment” over many years to get to this point.
“She’s had a big core team around her,” she said. “She has been training since 2013 or 2014 for this with extra sessions – going that extra mile all the time, doing more sessions than the club could even give her.
“So, for the last six years, she has put in a colossal amount of work.”
Also on the show, McSharry’s former teacher Sylvester Maguire said the town is only talking about one thing today.
“It is great to see that and it is great to see the way that can inspire, hopefully, the next generation as well,” he said.
“It has lifted everyone in the school community and everyone in the general area of Ballyshannon.
“I know Mona is a Sligo lady but we’ll claim her as our own as regards education and her swimming ability.
“You see wee kids going around and they are talking Mona McSharry and the Olympics on TV and that is a terrific thing to inspire them and hopefully that will continue now with the 200 metres she is going to be swimming shortly.”
He said McSharry, “deserves every plaudit and every bit of praise” she has been getting these past few days.
“All the accolades she is receiving, she deserves them and more because of the commitment she has shown,” he said.
“Everything she has ever done in her life, be it through school or swimming or whatever she is at, she has always had a great, great attitude. You tell her once; she will take it on board and away she goes.”
Ireland’s Mona McSharry before the women's 100m breaststroke final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 27-07-2021. Image: Ian MacNicol/Sportsfile