Northern Ireland

Meadow finishes seventh in Tokyo

Stephanie Meadow started the final round eight shots off the lead

Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow finished five shots behind winner Nelly Korda after a five-under-par final round of 66 in the women’s golf.

Meadow closed on 12 under, four shots outside the medal places, after play had been suspended due to a tropical storm in Saitama.

Ireland team-mate Leona Maguire finished tied for 23rd on five under.

In the women’s marathon, Fionnuala McCormack came 25th with Aoife Cooke having to withdraw after after 20km.

Meanwhile, Irish cyclists Mark Downey and Felix English did not finish Saturday’s men’s madison final, which was won by Denmark with Great Britain taking silver and France collecting bronze.

The Irish pair had fought hard to stay in the race but were listed as DNF after losing a second lap on the bunch late on.

McCormack delivered a fine performance in challenging conditions in Sapporo to run a season’s best time 2:34:09, which was 6:49 behind winner Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya. Her compatriot Brigid Kosgei finished second with USA’s Molly Seidel taking bronze.

Fionnuala McCormack
McCormack ran a controlled race in Sapporo

McCormack was competing in her fourth Olympics, having finished 20th in Rio, while it was a Games debut for Cooke, the fourth fastest Irish woman all-time for the distance.

Having been among a group that had become a detached at 10km, Cooke then pulled out before making the halfway point.

In the women’s golf, Meadow went into the final day tied for 10th on seven under and with her medal hopes alive after a third round of 68 left her eight shots behind leader Korda, but just three behind the bronze medal places.

The Jordanstown golfer, who finished 31st in Rio, produced a bogey-free five-under-par 66, to move to 12 under overall after earlier rounds of 72, 66 and 68.

Maguire, who was 21st at the Games five years ago, started her final round on five under par and tied for 18th but dropped three shots in her opening seven rounds to fall further back.

Japan’s Mone Inami and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko finished tied for second on 16 under before Inami took silver in the play-off hole.

‘We’ve started something at home’ – Meadow

Reflecting on her second Olympic Games, Meadow said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and believes her and Maguire’s performances are having a positive impact on women’s golf in Ireland.

“It definitely was a lot of fun, I’m very happy. It has been a great week, a great experience and I enjoyed every second of it. I can’t wait to come back,” she said.

“I would like to have won a medal but it was still great. Getting to talk to people who are the best at what they do – you can always learn something whether it is horse riding, boxing or gymnastics.

“I finished 30-something in Rio and Leona finished 20-something, and I think we were both happy enough with that, so it just shows how far we have come.

“If it was a team event I think we would have been pretty well up there, which is something to be very proud of. I know there are girls coming behind us that are going to be just as good, so I think we can both be proud that we have kind of started something at home.”

‘It will take a while to take the positives’ – Downey

Mark Downey and Felix English
Downey and English did not finish Saturday’s men’s madison final

Downey and English looked at home in the bunch for much of the madison final, however they lost a lap mid-way through, resulting in a 20-point deduction.

Going into the final quarter, Ireland found themselves distanced from the bunch and a second lap loss meant they were pulled from the race and listed as a non-finisher in 12th position alongside the USA, Canada, Australia, and Austria.

“”It’s going to take a while to take the positives from it, but me and Felix have had a rough journey to get here, and we said we would give it our best out there,” said Downey, who finished 17th in the Olympic omnium.

“We have to be proud of the journey we have had, we can’t be disappointed, but just as athletes, we want to compete, we want to fight.

“We want to be there at the end but today, we weren’t, so back to the drawing board.”

English added: “That was one of the fastest, well, the fastest race we’ve ever done. We didn’t really know what to expect, but it was certainly a shock to the system once we got out there.”

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