“This is what I’ve been doing my whole life” – Ellen Keane celebrates Paralympic gold

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26-year old Clontarf swimmer Ellen Keane has won gold at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo with a time of 1:19.93.

Speaking to Pundit Arena’s Marisa Kennedy directly after the race, Keane explained that her goggles filling up with water allowed her to swim her own race and hold off New Zealand rival Sophie Pascoe.

“I came here to live in the moment and enjoy the games and swim a time that I was proud of. That was my main goal. It was kind of my only goal, I knew it was possible to win the gold medal and then I knew it would be a fight against Sophie but I just kind of kept to my gameplan and tried to swim the race that I wanted to swim.

“I usually let people dictate what goes on around me but my goggles filed up with water and refused to let me even see other people! So that was probably a silver lining there. I kind of just knew it was going to happen. Things just slotted into place for me and even my boyfriend is the coach of Colin Judge and he was supposed to be competiting today at this time and then he didn’t have to so my boyfriend could come and watch me swim.

“Just little things like that kept happening and I was like ‘this is my moment’, I just needed to trust it and not be afraid of it and that’s, I guess, why I’m so calm!

“This morning…I feel like I need caffeine in me to swim fast so for the heat I didn’t want to take caffeine beause I wanted to go back to the village and take a rest and have a good sleep so this morning to go one minute tweny-one was really really good and I got a nice big hour and half in my cardboard bed that I’m really grateful didn’t break – it’s still in one piece!

“I’ve lived this moment in my head so many times and it was just executing it and being in the moment and that’s what I did.”

Presence of mind was key for Keane on her way to winning Paralympic gold but she also credited her strength and conditioning coach Ciaran Keogh for ensuring she had the power to execute her gameplan.

“I know Sophie [Pescoe] is really fast and she has a really good first fifty so I didn’t think about it. I didn’t know what was going on, I just knew I had a good last fifity and I trusted that and as I said my goggles were filled with water. It was literally just the last twenty-five I was like ‘just use your legs’.

“I’ve been working with my strength and conditioning coach Ciaran Keogh who has been so good in terms of figuring out ways of adapating in the gym so that I could do exercises that I haven’t been able to do before and I think in the last eighteen months I’ve gotten so much stronger and that’s where my strength is. It’s not mostly in the speed, it’s mostly the power in my legs. It was just ‘don’t rush it and focus on the power in my legs’.

The glorious scenes back home in Clontarf were shared on social media this morning and Ellen says she is delighted to see her family enjoy the moment together after being unable to travel to Tokyo.

“They’re going to be severely hungover tomorrow! I hope they are anyway. I’m so glad to be able to give that to them. They’re really devastated not to be able to come here and I know they would have loved to be here and be here for the moment.

“And I know I’ve been silent for the past three days, I’ve just been archiving all my messages. I do see them, I know they’re there and I will respond to them all later! To be able to give this to them is lovely and they’re surrounded by people they can celebrate with now, whereas if they came here they wouldn’t be able to do that so it’s really really lovely for them as well.”

It’s a day that Ellen, her friends and family will never forget and the gold medalist says ‘Paralympic Champion’ is a title she can get used to.

“It kind of only hit me when I was on the podium and they said ‘Paralympic champion’ and I was like ‘oh, this is it!’.

“This is what I’ve been doing my whole life, finally I’ve got this moment. Yeah I like the ring to it.”

Read More About: Ellen Keane, irish sport, Paralympics, swimming, Team Ireland