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Tokyo Olympics: Louise Shanahan takes pride after achieving Games dream for Ireland

Louise Shanahan represented Ireland in the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Keith Heppell
Louise Shanahan represented Ireland in the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Keith Heppell

Louise Shanahan was brimming with pride after becoming an Olympian in Tokyo, achieving her dream three years ahead of schedule.

The 24-year-old University of Cambridge student represented Ireland in the 800m, but was unable to make it out of the heats.

Shanahan, who is a PhD researcher in quantum physics, was racing in the third heat, and finished in seventh place in 2min 3.57sec, with the USA’s Athing Mu winning in 2.01.10, but the Trinity College student was the fastest of the three Irish athletes.

At the start of 2021, the Paris Olympics in 2024 was Shanahan’s target and so just by reaching Tokyo was exceeding expectations.

"I'm under no illusions, I know people woke up in the middle of the night to watch me finish last in my heat but at the start of the year I sat down with my coach and the aim was to get my first national senior vest, and I thought it would be the European indoors or the European team championships, I could only have dreamt that I would end up in the Olympic Stadium,” Shanahan told RTE Sport.

"I know that wasn't the performance that people wanted, but I'm really proud of how I performed.

"I put myself in the race, and when it came to it I didn't have the legs over the last 250m, but I put myself in a position to run a good race and it didn't happen on the day, but I don't think I can be too disappointed when I walk away as an Olympian.

"I didn't come here for a holiday, I came here to compete. There was no point in chilling out and letting the race play out in front of me.

“I wanted to be in a position either if the race went out really fast that I ran sensible laps and didn't get too carried away or in the event that if my legs had it on the day, that I could get to the finish line.

"Obviously the race didn't quite go as planned, but I feel like I executed the race that I wanted to, it just didn't work out for me today.”

Shanahan, who competes for Cambridge University Athletics Club and the Hare and Hounds, was delighted to be three years ahead of schedule.

"Paris was always the big goal, I don't think anyone expected to see me here in Tokyo and I definitely wouldn't be here if the Olympics were a year earlier,” she added.

"Everything has gone my way this year to end up on this start line and it's been a massive achievement for me. I think everyone at home knows how hard I work and knows the years of training to get to the start line.

"And, at the end of the day, if the worst thing that happens today is I become an Olympian, I don't think you can call it a bad day.”

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