Tokyo Paralympics: Aberdeen’s Tonu Shaw hails mentor Hannah Miley after swimming bronze

The age-old rule that good things come in threes certainly applies to Toni Shaw, who admits 2021 is turning into the best summer of her life. 

The Aberdeen swimmer passed her driving test in June, scored four As in her A Levels and yesterday bagged a Paralympic medal. 

The 18-year-old’s bronze in the 400m freestyle S9 final marked Britain’s first in the pool and she did it in style with a personal best on a dream opening day. 

“It’s been a really good year,” she said. “It’s been a different journey over the past year but without my coach, my team and my family, I wouldn’t be here.

“I was really nervous before but my coach calmed my nerves. I am really happy with my race, I got a personal best which I am really excited about. This is all an incredible experience. 

“I know those girls are super fast and super talented and I was just trying to hold on because they were shooting off. It was a great race and I tried my heart out.” 

Shaw, pictured, who was born without a right hand, made headlines in 2018 when she was picked for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games squad aged just 14.

She twice finished fifth on the Gold Coast and has clearly matured since, as she pushed Australia’s gold medallist Lakeisha Patterson and Hung-ary’s runner-up Zsofia Konkoly all the way in an absorbing final. 

Shaw trains alongside Scottish legend Hannah Miley at the University of Aberdeen and said the four-time Olympian played a major part in her success.

“Before I came away, she gave the me the loveliest card and message of good luck and if I ever need some advice and support, she is always there,” Shaw said. “She has been there and done it for years and she’s such a nice friend, so it’s great to have someone like that at home.” 

Shaw could add to her medal count with the 100m freestyle, the 100m freestyle relay and 100m butterfly all on her radar, before she returns to start a business degree at the University of Stirling. 

“My next race is the relay and I love swimming relay with my team-mates and friends, so I’m super excited,” she said.

In the velodrome Stephen Bate admitted he took a kicking in the defence of his Paralympic time trial title, but he is already focusing on a revenge mission.

Bate and pilot Adam Duggleby went quicker than ever before in the 4,000m tandem pursuit but still saw their colours lowered by Dutchmen Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos.

The Scot will now look to next week’s time trial road event, in which he is both the Paralympic and world champion. And the tandem duo will be smarting, Duggleby admitting an issue with pacing in their qualifying race cost them dear in the final.

“That’s what you call a classic kicking, we did what we could but it wasn’t enough, their performance was phenomenal and sometimes you need to settle for second,” said Bate.

“Emotionally it’s disappointing but logically we need to be realistic. We gave everything we had, it just wasn’t good enough. I’m just pleased to be standing here with a medal because it could have gone a lot worse. It’s never nice losing but when you get a canning from a bike like that you can still be proud. It’s a medal, just not quite the right colour.

“We can reset for the time trial now, it’s a brutal course, especially in this heat, but we know it will suit us.”

Neil Fachie and pilot Matthew Rotherham always knew this event was about preparation for Saturday’s 1,000m time trial. They are the defending world champions in that event while Fachie, the gold medallist from London 2012, is still cross about his silver in Rio.

“I’d be surprised if our event isn’t won in a world record time, that’s what we are anticipating and what we’re aiming for,” said Aberdeen’s Fachie, 37, who made his Paralympic debut in Beijing in athletics before switching to cycling.

“A lot of good preparation has gone into the Games and this was really just a chance to run through it in a race environment. We had a couple of technical issues that we’ll have to correct for Saturday but we’re in a great place and I can’t wait to get going on our main event.

“We came in here with the kilo in mind and we probably didn’t attack it as hard as we could, as a racer you want to give your all but we didn’t want to destroy ourselves here and cost ourselves on Saturday.”

Scots Robyn Love and Jude Hamer suffered a 73-54 defeat to Canada in the opening game of the women’s wheelchair basketball tournament. The world silver medallists bossed the early stages, leading 29-26 at half time, but a strong Canad-ian comeback left the British team reeling in their first international game for 18 months.

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The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992