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Keane's focus back on Games

Ellen keeping fit in spite of cancellation and lockdown

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Ellen Keane of Ireland with her bronze medal following the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8 final at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Ellen Keane of Ireland with her bronze medal following the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8 final at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Ellen Keane of Ireland with her bronze medal following the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8 final at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Photo: Paul Mohan/Sportsfile

Irish Paralympic swimmer Ellen Keane has admitted to "breathing a sigh of relief" on hearing that the Tokyo Paralympics would now take place in 2021.

Like so many other potential Olympians and Paralympians for this year, the 100m breaststroke bronze medallist from Rio four years ago spent most of the month of March unsure of her athletic future.

Could she train? What about the lockdown? What were her competitors all around the world doing? Would some of them go to Tokyo this year with a huge training advantage?

"But the postponement to August and September of next year changed all that," she says. "Yes, I did breathe a sigh of relief, now there was certainty where there had been doubt for so long."

Medal hope

Having competed at the Games as far back as Beijing, when she was just 13 years of age, Ellen will go to Tokyo next year as one of Ireland's best hopes for a medal. And she WILL go next year.

"Yes, getting to the Paralympics works on 'slots'. Ireland have three of them for female swimming at the Games next year and I've got one of those slots and it will carry forward to 2021," says the 25-year-old student of Culinary Entrepreneurship at DIT in Dublin.

And what exactly is that? "It's a course for someone who might have opening a restaurant in mind. You do learn to cook, but you learn how to run a business - and how to market it too.

"I have to be careful how I eat now, as my body does not need to consume the 4000 calories a day I would use up during four hours swimming."

Though swimming pools are closed, Ellen is carrying on training, "but at a low level, as I cannot risk pushing it too hard and then needing to see a doctor at the moment.

"I got into the shops before the lockdown and bought a bike, so I do about 40 minutes a day on it, staying within the 2km radius of my home," says

"My coach Dave Malone has looked at how I can maintain my fitness, but without pushing it or going too easily, and he says that's the best way to keep going.

"And then my Strength and Conditioning coach got me some gym equipment, so I've set them up in the back garden and use them three times a week.

"For a person used to being so active all the time, it is not a lot and it is hard being at home, but it is keeping me going."

So too are Ellen's sponsors, of whom Toyota are one, and also Sport Ireland.

"They were all on to me, soon after the announcement for 2021 was made, reaffirming their commitment all the way to the Games next year, which was great."