Orla Barry has netted a stunning silver medal in the F57/58 discus at the IPC World Athletics Championships at Lyon’s Rhone Stadium.
The 22-year-old had been in sensational form in the lead-up to the championships, throwing an unofficial world record at the test event in May, and following up with another mark over 30m at the Morton Games last week.
Barry delivered when it counted most though, breaking the world record for the F57 classification with her final throw of 31.08m.
That earned her 1002 points, but it wasn’t enough to reel in Nassima Saifi of Algeria, whose own world record for the F58 classification of 42.05m gave her a tally of 1031 points.
It was a tremendous effort by Barry, whose first three throws were all over the 30m mark. The best of 30.54m got her comfortably into the final series, lying in second place behind Saifi, who had already set a world record of 39.98m.
There were only nine points between the pair at that juncture, but Saifi’s fifth attempt of 42.05 was a massive improvement and set a stiff target for the East Cork woman to overhaul.
After fouling and then throwing just 28.61, the pressure was on for the final throw. Barry displayed her championship mettle, summoning all her courage and strength for one last mighty, record-breaking effort.
It wasn’t enough to bag the gold, but it represents further significant progress for the Ladysbridge athlete, who finished fourth at these championships in Christchurch two years ago, and won bronze at the London Paralympics in 2012.
“I did what I came to do” said Barry. “I broke the world record and I’m delighted to be going home with a silver medal.”
James Nolan, head of Irish Paralympic Athletics, was effusive in his praise of Ireland’s latest major championship star.
He said: “Orla’s performances all year have been very consistent and regularly over 30m.
"She has now produced a 31m plus throw and the world record at the major championships, which is three metres further than her throw last year to win bronze at the Paralympic Games.
“The Algerian had to throw a world record to beat her. Silver is excellent and another step forward for Orla.”
With Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop having shared four gold medals equally between them, Barry’s magnificent feat brings Ireland’s medal tally at the championships to five, with Deirdre Mongan the nation’s last contestant this afternoon in the F52/53 shot putt final.