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'I spent my whole life training for this!' | Ellen Keane on Paralympics frustrations

Swimmer Ellen Keane joined Off The Ball on Thursday, talking about her 'relief' that the Olympics...

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'I spent my whole life training for this!' | Ellen Keane on Paralympics frustrations

Swimmer Ellen Keane joined Off The Ball on Thursday, talking about her 'relief' that the Olympics has finally been called off after people speculated about it for so long.

In a wide-ranging interview, Keane spoke of her guilt that she was allowed to train for longer than some of her international opponents and of the emotion of leaving the pool for the final time for an indefinite period with the pandemic.

"When everything was shutting down, we still had access to the pool and the Sport Ireland Institute, because the Games were still going ahead, which was really handy," said Keane.

"But I found that probably the most stressful because we were all watching things all over the world shut down and all of the people that we compete against were not able to access training facilities.

"I felt guilty that I was able to swim, and the stress that came with that - we are living history now. So there is no normal way to react to the situation.

"I had a lot of emotional stress on my mind or in my body even when I was in the pool and in training. I wasn't able to train properly as I was so tired and so heavy.

"I felt guilty that I wasn't able to take advantage of the opportunity I had been given. So when the news came that the Games had been postponed, I just had a sigh of relief."

Ellen Keane on frustrations

As to the process of actually postponing the Games, Keane spoke of the curious and frustrating situations that Paralympians and Olympians found themselves in before the Games were pushed back.

"I think the turning point was when qualification things starting getting cancelled. I know that my friends and family had my best interests at heart, but other people would just casually say 'What is going to happen with the Olympics?'

"People would casually drop it in like 'ah, that's not going to happen' - this is my whole life!

"You are like: I have spent my whole life training for this and you're just dismissing it!

"The more people kept saying it, I thought that someone had to come out and say something so that I can stop listening to this negativity and start to plan afresh."

A freshness of thought is something that Keane believes will split sportspeople into two groups: ones that desperately miss their sport and those that have been running on the momentum of habit.

"Even before the end of the last session, I knew that this was going to be the last time I was going to be in the pool and I was able to enjoy every single stroke. It was kind of sad - I'm getting emotional now!

"This little break now is going to give every athlete time to appreciate how much they love their sport. It is going to give those athletes who don't love their sport as much as they thought they did the chance to realise that, and to realise that there might be something else out there for them."

Ellen Keane is a Toyota ambassador and a World & European Medallist Paralympian swimmer. Toyota is an official partner to Paralympics Ireland and worldwide mobility partner to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Toyota's team of five Irish athletes; Ellen Keane, Jason Smyth, Nicole Turner, Noelle Lenihan and Patrick Monahan will all feature in their "Start Your Impossible" campaign as they prepare for the Tokyo Games in 2021. Visit for more information on Start your Impossible.

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Ellen Keane Olympics Paralympics