Paralympics 2021: Toni Shaw reflects on bronze medal and advice from Hannah Miley
The Aberdeen swimmer passed her driving test in June, scored four As in her A Levels and yesterday bagged a Paralympic medal in Tokyo.
The 18-year-old’s bronze in the 400m freestyle S9 final marked Britain’s first in the pool and she did it in style with a new personal best on a dream opening day.
"It's been a really good year,” she said.
“It’s been a different journey over the past year but without my coach, my team and my family, I wouldn’t be here.
“I was really nervous before but my coach calmed my nerves. I am really happy with my race, I got a personal best which I am really excited about. This is all an incredible experience.
“I know those girls are super-fast and super talented and I was just trying to hold on because they were shooting off. It was a great race and I tried my heart out.”
Shaw, who was born without a right hand, made headlines in 2018 when she was picked for Scotland’s Commonwealth Games squad at just 14 years old.
She twice finished fifth on the Gold Coast but has clearly matured since, as she pushed Australia’s gold medallist Lakeisha Patterson and Hungary’s runner-up Zsofia Konkoly all the way in an absorbing final.
Shaw trains alongside Scottish legend Hannah Miley at the University of Aberdeen and insists the four-time Olympian played a major part in her medal.
“Before I came away, she gave the me the loveliest card and message of good luck and if I ever need some advice and support, she is always there,” she said.
“She has been there and done it for years and she’s such a nice friend, so it’s great to have someone like that home.”
Shaw could add to her medal count with the 100m freestyle, the 100m freestyle relay and 100m butterfly all on her radar, before she flies home to start a business degree at the University of Stirling.
“My next race is the relay and I love swimming relay with my teammates and friends. So I'm super excited,” she said.
“I love training, I love my club. It is hard sometimes but being there makes it so enjoyable so it is not as bad as it could be.”
Elsewhere, Scots Robyn Love and Jude Hamer suffered a 73-54 defeat to Canada in the opening game of the women's wheelchair basketball tournament.
The world silver medallists bossed the early stages, leading 29-26 at half-time, but a strong Canadian comeback left the British team reeling in their first international game for 18 months.
Maddie Thompson led ParalympicsGB scoring with 11 points and talisman Helen Freeman contributed seven assists.
“We were so nervous because it’s been so long since we last played, but it was just nice to be out there and there’s lots we can take from it," said team-mate Charlotte Moore.
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