Ireland’s Shane Ryan Out of 100 Backstroke at Tokyo Olympics

shane ryan
Shane Ryan -- Photo Courtesy: Mine Kasapoglu/ISL

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Ireland’s Shane Ryan Out of 100 Backstroke at Tokyo Olympics

Ireland’s Shane Ryan, a semifinalist in the 100 backstroke at the Rio Olympics, is withdrawing from that event in Tokyo because of “persistent shoulder pain… specific to swimming this one stroke.” Swim Ireland announced the news Friday in a press release. The release stated that Ryan will compete as part of Ireland’s 800 freestyle relay later on in the Olympics and likely in the 100 butterfly, but the pain made backstroke impossible at the present time.

Ryan said that he has “struggled with pain in both shoulders when swimming backstroke for quite some time now” and that “despite trying everything we could before the Games, there was nothing more we could do – and so we came to this difficult decision.” Ryan went on to express excitement for being part of a historic moment for Irish swimming as the country fields its first relay at an Olympic Games since the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Ryan grew up in Haverton, Pa., but he is an Irish citizen and was eligible to represent Ireland in international competition since his father immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. Ryan competed for four years with the Penn State Nittany Lions, and he has achieved some success internationally representing Ireland, including bronze medals in the 50 back at the World Short Course and European Championships and a gold in the 50 back at the 2017 World University Games.

Read the full press release from Swim Ireland below.

Ireland’s two-time Olympian Shane Ryan has been forced to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 100m Backstroke event.

Ryan, a semi-finalist in this event at Rio 2016, has made this decision in conjunction with the swimming and medical staff in Tokyo because of persistent shoulder pain, something which is specific to swimming this one stroke.

He remains fit and ready to compete in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay later into the competition, with a review of his 100m Butterfly participation being taken after this relay.

Ryan has been dealing with pain in his both of his shoulders for several weeks, ruling him out of competition at the Swim Ireland Performance Meet at the end of June, and this has been investigated and treated extensively in collaboration with the team of experts in the Sport Ireland Institute.

Unfortunately for Ryan, the pain has not subsided and a decision has been taken for him to not partake in any further backstroke racing until further investigative work can be undertaken and the issue has been rectified. Ryan will look ahead to his role as part of the historic Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Rela,y which will race on Tuesday, July 27.

Ryan said: “I am extremely disappointed and frustrated to no longer be swimming the 100m Backstroke at this Olympic Games, particularly as it is my main Olympic event.

“Unfortunately, this is a difficult decision that has to made in high performance sport at times and something that many athletes have to deal with at different stages of their athletic careers. Unfortunately for me, it is a decision that we’ve had to make at the biggest event.

“I’ve struggled with pain in both shoulders when swimming backstroke for quite some time now and I am so grateful that I have an amazing support team who have helped me through the whole process. Despite trying everything we could before the Games, there was nothing more we could do – and so we came to this difficult decision.

“However, I am excited that I will be walking out in five days’ time to compete as part of a historic moment in Irish swimming. For the first time in 49 years, Ireland has a relay at the Olympic Games.

“I know that the decision to compete in this event as planned is not only the right call for me, but also for my teammates Jack McMillan, Finn McGeever and Brendan Hyland. Despite this being the most challenging time in my athletic career to date, I’ve never been more driven to perform here and make Ireland proud of both me and this relay whilst we’re in Tokyo.”

National Performance Director Jon Rudd said: “Shane has made a very courageous decision here, one that we all respect and support.

“He will inevitably feel disappointment that he cannot swim the event in which his attentions have been primarily focused since 2016, but he will take some respite in still being able to swim in the relay, something he absolutely grabbed with both hands when named as part of the team.

“Racing with pain is never wise nor correct, and Shane has worked with numerous experts in their field in recent months to explore a number of interventions to help manage the situation. Unfortunately, these efforts have not given him an outcome that he or we hoped for in the time that we had.

“The support of the Sport Ireland Institute and their team of experts throughout this period has been extensive and welcomed – and Shane will of course live to fight another day in the stroke where he became Ireland’s first World Championship medallist in 2018.”

The Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay heats take place on July 27 at 12:17pm Irish time. Find out more about Ireland’s aquatics schedule at Tokyo 2020.