All things considering, this Tokyo bronze will surely be the greatest achievement of Scott Quin’s life.
The Edinburgh swimmer put aside a COVID track and trace scare that forced him to isolate for more than a week and confirmation that his dad is battling cancer to win a bronze medal built on spirit and resilience.
Quin was only back in the pool on Friday as ParalympicsGB worked to curb the spread of infection after a member of staff had tested positive for COVID at ParalympicsGB’s prep camp in Suzuka.
He was forced into isolation on 12 August, just while he was coming to terms with news his dad has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
But he went out and finished third in a Paralympic final just 48 hours later at the end of the hardest two weeks of his life.
“I came out into Suzuka for a holding camp and unfortunately I was one of the athletes that got tracked and traced and I was going to be isolating for 14 days,” he said.
“Emotionally, it has been a hard journey. Isolation puts things into perspective and coming out here my dad was tested for prostate cancer, and when I was out here I was told he has got cancer which is so hard to take.
“My grandmother is 97 and she has been in hospital so it has been hard in the last two weeks, I was only back in the pool on Friday.
“I said to my parents I was actually scared of failing and this is what hurts me the most if I fail them.
“If I had 12 sessions consistently in the pool, like I have been all season, I probably would have been quicker. I am gutted and not getting a personal best hurts me the most but at the end of the day, five years ago I came away with a silver and now I have a bronze.
“It puts life into perspective and I am so humble to race here.”
Quin, who won the silver medal in this event five years ago in Rio, touched the wall in 1:05.91, just over two seconds off the pace of Japan’s gold medallist Naohide Yamaguchi while Jake Michel finished second for Australia.
At 31, he is one of the elder statesmen of the team but insists he wants to carry on to Paris in three years’ time.
“I love this sport so much and I will say I am the biggest kid who loves this sport,” he added.
“The University of Edinburgh have been a Covid bubble group and in the last year they have made me so welcome in the programme. I have really enjoyed myself and it’s why I want to carry on, I might be 31 but I want to leave the sport when I can’t physically leave anymore in the water.
“My team are great. It is almost like the jigsaw puzzle I have got, I don’t want to break the pieces or lose them. I have to accept a medal is a medal, it’s the Paralympics the pinnacle of our sport. But I am just emotional.”
Maria Lyle’s Paralympic results were exactly the same as Rio 2016 but the emotions totally different as she repeated her T35 sprint double with 200m bronze in Tokyo.
The Dunbar star won her fourth Paralympic bronze medal, once again producing a season’s best when it mattered most and clocking 30.24 seconds to reach the rostrum.
It was a race in which the world record fell to China’s Xia Zhou and Australian Isis Holt in silver medal position was 2.3 seconds ahead of Lyle in third.
“I’m really happy, I was so nervous before that race,” said the 21-year-old.
“It wasn’t the best way I wanted to execute it and it doesn’t matter what time you run, it’s where you place. I’m just trying to enjoy the experience.
“I was quite unhappy in Rio with my mental health and in all aspects of my life. It took time to recognise that and get it sorted.
“I’m in Tokyo and I’m loving and enjoying the experience. There’s more to life than running and I’m trying to enjoy it, at times that’s the most important thing.”
Meanwhile, Melrose wheelchair racer Sammie Kinghorn came within a whisker of a maiden Paralympic medal and finished fourth in the women’s T53 800m.
“The 800 hasn’t been my aim, so I just wanted to give it a shot and know that I gave it my all,” said Kinghorn, who missed the podium by 0.04 seconds.
“I’m getting faster and faster and getting more confident. There were a couple of tactical errors, but it’s good that I will learn from them.”
And Drymen’s Melanie Woods lowered her personal best for the second time in ten hours with 1:50.40 to finish fifth in the women’s T54 800m.
In other action, Dumfries archer Nathan McQueen bowed out of the mixed team compound quarter-finals. He and teammate Jessica Stratton went down 153-151 to Iran.
There was better news for Glasgow’s Gordon Reid, who reached the wheelchair tennis quarter-finals alongside Alfie Hewett with a 6-0, 6-0 win against Austria’s Thomas Flax and Nico Langmann.
He said: “It was good to get out there and experience what it’s like to play in that court. I thought we performed well, we were moving well, and it’s a good starting place to build from.”
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