WHEN Aidan McGlynn hauled himself out of the pool following the first round of the 50 metres freestyle at the Athens Paralympics in 2004, he would have been forgiven for thinking his time as an Olympian was over.
He was only 22 years of age, but after finishing in 29.15 seconds, which was around two seconds slower than his qualifying time, he was dejected and lost the support of the Sports Council after failing to hit his pre-event target.
All is not lost, however, and now, 17 years later, he hopes to go full circule and return to the Games for a second time and in a second sport as a triathlete.
Having spent the last six years competing all around the globe in the Paratriathlon World Cup, the 39-year-old father of two is within touching distance of achieving what would be a remarkable double.
However, for Aidan to qualify for Tokyo he has been left with a big ask, which will require him to jump 10 places in the world rankings. And after the massive disruption caused by Covid-19 in 2020 and again this year, he knows to achieve the right result will take a lot of hard work and luck.
“At the minute I’m ranked 24th in the world but I need to be in the top 14, which sounds achievable but it’s not that easy because any races that go ahead this year, the world and his wife will be looking to enter!,” he acknowledged.
“It would be an absolute dream come true. It’s anyone’s dream to get there in one sport alone, but to get to a second Games in a second sport would be the cherry on the top!
“It is within grasp, but it will take a lot of hard work.”
If Aidan manages to achieve what 17 years ago would have been deemed unachievable, he would be very keen to make amends for what he feels was a disappointing Games debut in Athens.
As well as failing to meet his own expectations, he didn’t allow himself to fully enjoy the experience of being at an Olympics and Paralympics games, becoming ‘overwhelmed’ by the occasion.
“If I could go back again I’d probably do it totally different in that, I was only 22 and I probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have,” he explained.
“I have mixed emotions about Athens. If I could go back I would try to do things differently but I suppose, because I was so young, I got caught up in the whole emotion of it.
“It becomes a bit overwhelming, never mind the pressure from your NGB to perform and to get PBs and all the rest!
“It was very overwhelming and I got caught up in it without enjoying it.”
FULL STORY IN LAST WEEK’S STRABANE CHRONICLE…
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Posted: 10:28 am February 21, 2021