WATCH 'Dark horse' and honorary Laois man Shane Ryan win historic swimming medal for Ireland

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

So-called 'dark horse' Shane Ryan defied the odds to win a first ever senior World Championship Swimming medal from Ireland.

Shane, whose dad Tom hails from Portarlington on the Laois Offaly border, won a bronze medal in the Men's 50 Backstroke Final FINA Short Course World Championships 2018 in China.

The Irish-American came in third behind a Russian and an American in just over 22 seconds to claim his sprint medal. Commentators described Shane as the 'dark horse' ahead of the race.

Ryan had progressed through the rounds with three Irish Records, from 23.03 in the heats to 22.96 in last night’s semi-final and today a huge leap to 22.76 for the Bronze medal. The medal-winning time moves the 24-year-old into the top 10 of all-time in the event, ranked at number 9.

The medal is Ryan’s third major podium finish adding to World University Games Gold in 2017 and European Championship Bronze earlier this year.

"I’m really really happy with how tonight went, I know with each race I wanted to get a little bit faster and just try to get my hand on the wall, tonight I’m happy I got my hand there, got a bronze medal and I’m glad that Ireland was on that podium with the flag raised," he said.

He also commented on what it means to win Ireland’s first ever World senior medal.

"It’s a great honour, it really is, every stroke I was racing I was thinking, I’ve got to get my hand to the wall, not only for me but for Ireland, my coaches, my teammates it’s not just for me it’s for everyone else, Irish swimming is in the spot light, the future is really looking good for all of us," he said.

Russia’s Evengy Rylov took the gold medal in the event in 22.58, USA’s Ryan Murphy claimed silver in 22.63 and the battle for third left just three hundredths of a second between third and fifth, Ryan claiming the medal ahead of Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov (22.77) and Brazil’s Guilherme Guido (22.79).

Ryan returns to the pool tomorrow for the 100m Freestyle heats and will also be joined by Conor Ferguson, Darragh Greene and Brendan Hyland for the Men’s 4x50m Medley Relay. 

His victory was celebrated by Swim Ireland and The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins led the congratulations

“May I send my congratulations to Shane Ryan on winning bronze in the men's 50 metres backstroke at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in China - Ireland’s first ever World senior swimming medal,” he said