Patrick Monahan finished 12th in the T54 marathon as Team Ireland's involvement in the Paralympic Games came to an end at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo this morning.
The 35-year-old from Kildare, classified as T53 but racing against mostly T54 athletes, finished in 12th – four places higher than his Paralympic debut in Rio five years ago – clocking one hour and 32.54 minutes.
The Caragh man had put himself through meticulous preparation in heat chambers for the expected conditions, but the race took place in heavy rain and temperatures failed to soar.
Defending champion Marcel Hug and China’s Jong Zhang had a terrific tussle at the front before the Swiss superstar pulled away with just 2km remaining to win in 1:24.02 to claim his fourth gold medal of these Games.
Zhang took silver in a personal best of 1:24.22, while America’s Daniel Romanchuck broke away from a four-man chasing group to bag bronze in 1:29.05.
"I was the most nervous I’ve ever been before a race because I hadn’t raced in two years," Monahan admitted afterwards.
"You’d be doubting yourself and it’s tough being on last, but I’m happy with that, it was a decent pace.
"I usually look forward to racing but I was dreading it, the nerves were kinda getting the better of me, even this morning I was hoping I’d have grip. It’s such a tricky thing to get right so I’m glad it held up in the end.
"I’ve never prayed for rain before but I was actually praying for it here because I’d been struggling for grip here beforehand. The rain ended up being an issue at the start, the material was coming off my glove after 10km, but I had a spare pair in the back and they just held together.
"I got a poor start. I slipped on the rims a few times but I didn’t panic and got back into it and picked off a few lads as I went along. The course was tough enough and coming back was pretty hilly.
"It’s getting harder to get here – it was a very small field – so it’s a privilege to be here and hopefully I’ve inspired a few people at home to pass me out fairly quickly!"
Ireland finished 32nd in the medal table overall, with four golds, two silvers and a bronze.