24 hours on from her remarkable performance in claiming gold at the Paralympics, Ellen Keane says it is still sinking in.
The 26-year-old stormed to victory in the SB8 100 metres breaststroke on Thursday.
Keane clocked a new personal best time of 1.19.93 to take the honours ahead of New Zealand's Sophie Pascoe.
The Dubliner - who was a bronze medallist in Rio five years ago - says she is beginning to savour the success.
She acknowledged that she is keeping the all-important medal in a safe location.
To those who’ve said I’m the calmest gold medal winner they’ve ever seen…
I’m currently sitting in the food hall by myself having a little cry.
It’s finally sinking in.
Some dreams do come true 🥇
2008 - 6th
2021 - 1st
Thank you for all the support x pic.twitter.com/ZvAu4QKC4S
— Ellen Keane PLY💜 (@keane_ellen) August 26, 2021
"It's currently under my pillow!" she laughed when speaking to the media earlier today (Friday).
"I slept with it under my pillow last night so I knew where it was.
"I guess the first place it's going to have to go is home to my parents for them to see and get all happy about."
Explaining the demanding nature of the hours after the race, Keane says the significance of her feat is only beginning to register.
"Seeing everything on social media on Twitter, I'm beginning to realise what I've done,"
"It's really lovely to know that I've finally done it, I feel like I've been walking the walk for a long time and I haven't had the gold medal, not to support me but to show that I am capable of what I want to do and now that I have it I am a little bit more at peace."
Keane also touched on the wider impact of the Paralympics - and how they can inspire people around the globe.
"I feel like this is the first games I've been at where I've seen the Olympics and Paralympics logo side by side, we're seen as equals here.
"Even in Rio, all of the Olympic athletes got their phones and Paralympians didn't get anything, here in Tokyo we're getting all the same things, we're being treated as equals to Olympians.
"We're just athletes who happen to have a disability and the Japanese people really respect that and I'm hoping that that will go out to the rest of the world and seep into the mainstream media.
"That is the goal of the Paralympics movement, is to help people realise that anyone with a disability is still a person and they're still capable of things once you give them a challenge."
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