Mona McSharry's incredible Olympics journey ends by blitzing Irish record
"I'm back in college on the twenty... something of August"
Mona McSharry smashed almost a whole second off the Irish record in the heats of the 200-metre Women's Breast-stroke, and still wanted more at the end.
The Sligo native, who reached the 100-metre Women's Breast-stroke Final and finished 8th, was not expecting to compete in the longer version, but got the nod to give it a crack in the heats.
She finished second in the first heat in a time of 2:25.08, which was almost a full second better than the old record (2:25:92). There were three heats to follow, so McSharry, who was seeded 28th, was left hoping her time was good enough to make the semi-finals (Top 16).
Ultimately, it was not to be. The second heat was an absolute scorcher and seven of the eight finishers in that one all went faster than the winner of the first, unseeded heat.
Only a handful went faster in the third heat, so McSharry was still in with a semi-final shot as the competitors readied to go in the final heat. Again, there was a blazing pace in that, and the 200-metre world record was narrowly missed by 0:05 seconds. It meant, once all the times were tallied, McSharry missed out and finished 20th.
In her post-race interview with RTÉ, before her semi-final fate was decided, McSharry was pleased with her PB (Personal Best) at the Olympics.
"I like to be leading the race, more than catching," she said, "so I definitely enjoyed that. It was a good fight... I really enjoyed it."
"It's been a bit of a rollercoaster," she added. "A bit of a high after the 100 [final] and then not being sure if I was finished or not. So, trying to re-train my body into getting enough recovery and making sure I was rested for today...
"This is a great way to finish it. If this is the end, then I'm happy enough to finish on a PB in an event I was lucky enough to swim."
McSharry has been encouraged by how much she has thrived in the white-hot Olympics atmosphere, kept smiling and been backed so massively from those back home.
Before the 20-year-old heads back to college, in the USA, she has plans to have a mini reunion with friends and family, and experiencing a few non-competing days in the Olympic Village.
"There's a lot of fun stuff to come," she declared.
Paris 2024 is only three years away and McSharry has given herself a great launch-pad for that, and the world and European championships ahead.