It was a Paralympics full of the highs and lows of sport for Patrick O’Leary. Competing in both the 200m KL3 and VL3, Patrick had a busy competition schedule at the Sea Forrest Waterway in Tokyo, with his competition schedule being packed into 3 days of qualification races and medal rounds.
Day one (2nd September) saw Patrick get his campaign underway, progressing easily to both semi-finals. After this, the business end of the racing came quickly, with the next day marking the beginning of the medal rounds. Day 2 saw Patrick racing in his favoured KL3, where he had previous Paralympic success, finishing in 6th in the Rio Games. The racing in Tokyo proved a more difficult affair, with a tough semi-final seeing Patrick miss out on a spot in the KL3 final, and a chance to compete for the medals. In the B-final, Patrick still had a point to prove, paddling a very strong race to take 1st place, placing him 9th overall for the Tokyo Games, still an outstanding result.
Racing in the KL3. Photo – Sportsfile
With a quick turnaround to the VL3 racing the very next day, a refocus was needed. Coming in to these Paralympic Games as European Champion in the VL3, there was a great chance of coming home with a medal, which brought pressure with. In an interview with Canoeing Ireland Patrick spoke about feeling none of the pressure, having a fantastic attitude to just go in to have his best race on the day, with previous results have no influence on how his preparation would change or how he would only look to perform to 100% of his ability. This focussed preparation showed with a 3rd place finish in his VL3 semi-final booking Patrick his spot in the final later the same day. In the final itself Patrick had what he has stated was his best possible race, improving on his previous best Paralympic placing to come home in 5th place in a time of 52.91 seconds. Speaking after the race Patrick was delighted with his performance, feeling like his paddling represented fully what he was capable on the day, and did justice to his preparation.
The calm before the storm. VL3. Photo – Sportsfile
In a video on his Twitter account, Patrick later extended his thanks to the entire paddling community in Ireland. Both to those who have directly helped him in his career and preparation for these Games, and to the community as a whole for cheering him on and supporting him across the whole season.