Mona McSharry . . . on the podium getting her gold medal
Remember the name. Mona Lucille McSharry. Now No. 1 in her age group in the world in the 100m breaststroke.
On Saturday night last around 11.30 p.m. Irish time the Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon student took gold in the World Junior Swimming Championships in Indianapolis, USA and in so doing, became the first Irish gold medal winner in swimming.
A native of Grange, Co. Sligo, Mona is coached and trains at the Ballyshannon Leisure Centre under the guidance of the Marlins Swim Club.
Speaking on Tuesday evening at Indianapolis airport on her way to New York, Mona was still coming to terms with her great success.
“Speechless. There are no words to describe it. You enter the final like every other athlete with one goal in mind, to be first to the wall. I turned around and I was just shocked. It didn't sink in and it still hasn't fully,” says Mona.
It has been a wonderful year for the ultra talented teenager, who turned 17 while in Indianapolis last week.
Back in April she swept the boards at the Irish Swimming Championships at Abbotstown, winning the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke titles, breaking senior records.
Then in June it was off to Israel for the European Junior Championship where she took gold in the 50m and 100m breaststroke and silver in the 200m breaststroke. In the 50m she broke the Irish senior record set by Fiona Doyle in 2013. She also broke the Irish record in the 200m only to be pipped at the post for gold.
She also competed in the World Senior Championships in Budapest in July, but the World Juniors was always her big target all summer.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat back at the beginning of June after she was presented with the Donegal Democrat Youth Sports Award for the month of April, she was targeting a place in the final at the World Juniors. She did much better than just make the final.
In her first event, the 50m breaststroke, she reached the final as the fastest qualifier, and was just edged out into third place in the final.
But it was a different story in the 100m as the Marlins swimmer went out fast and after a fantastic turn was always to the fore as she came home to win the gold.
All those early morning sessions in Ballyshannon had borne fruit.
It takes huge commitment, drive and family support to get out of bed at 5.30 am in the morning to be in the pool in Ballyshannon by 6.30 pm, six days a week for a session of an hour and a half.
One of her training partners, Roisin Maguire, as well as one of her coaches, Grace Meade were in Indianapolis this week to support the talented McSharry. Also there were her family.
“It was great to have so much support out here for the championships,” said Mona.
“We have a few days off now and will be back home around lunchtime on Saturday.”
Then there will be just one day before it's back to school in Coláiste Cholmcille, Ballyshannon, where Mona will begin her Leaving Cert studies.
“It's never easy getting ready for the Leaving no matter what you do but I have great support from staff and friends at Coláiste Cholmcille n Ballyshannon.”
So where to now for our new world champion?
“Over the next number of years I will be transitioning into senior competitions and my long term goal is the 2020 Olympics but in the meantime I have my sights set on competing at European Senior Swimming Championships,” said Mona.
No doubt she has, and she has her Irish Senior Swimming titles to defend as well.
She also has to look after her academic studies and there will be a big welcome home for her when she returns to college on Monday next.
Women's 50m Breaststroke final
1 WEISS Emily USA 30.78
2 KNELSON Faith CAN 30.91
3 Mc SHARRY Mona Lucille IRL 30.97
4 BARTEL Zoe Elizabeth USA 31.28
5 HALLMANN Weronika POL 31.50
6 SELEIKAITE Agne LTU 32.10
7 HODGES Chelsea AUS 32.12
8 SAMANCI Gulsen Beste TUR 32.25
Women's 100m Breaststroke Final
1 Mc SHARRY Mona Lucille IRL 1:07.10
2 KNELSON Faith CAN 1:07.47
3 BARTEL Zoe Elizabeth USA 1:07.63
4 WEISS Emily USA 1:08.3
5 CHEKHOVSKIKH Alena RUS 1:09.00
6 MAKAROVA Anastasia R RUS 1:09.65
7 BRUNZELL Hannah SWE 1:09.90
8 MARTI FERNANDEZ Laia ESP 1:10.24
Women's 200m Breaststroke final
1 BARTEL Zoe Elizabeth USA 2:25.6
2 NELSON Ella USA 2:27.04
3 GUYE-JOHNSON Annabel Elizabeth GBR 2:27.42
4 Mc SHARRY Mona Lucille IRL 2:27.67
5 BELL Amy Lauren GBR 2:28.4
6 KNELSON Faith CAN 2:28.53
7 MUSELOVA Tereza CZE 2:29.67
8 BRUNZELL Hannah SWE 2:29.97