Berkhamsted’s James O’Shea came agonizingly close to capping his first Paralympics swimming final with a medal after finishing fourth in the SB5 100m breaststroke at London 2012.
James, 34, qualified fifth-fastest for the event with a time of 1.39.88 in the heats, but knocked more than a second off that time to record a season’s best of 1.38.30 in the final, which was won by South Korean Lim Woo-Guen.
And James’ mum Pam, from Priory Gardens, Berkhamsted, was understandably delighted with her son’s performance.
“He couldn’t have done any better really,” she said. “The other swimmers were just a bit more powerful, but we were so proud of him.”
“I think he did fantastically well, and all the messages of support have been so special.”
After the race, James admitted he had not been feeling 100 per cent during the build-up, and Pam said: “He doesn’t do nerves but he hadn’t been feeling too great before the race.
“He didn’t seem nervous but he was huffing a bit on the starting block.”
James lost both of his legs in a train accident in 1997, and the nation has been inspired by his story of resilience.
“They said he got a four-minute standing ovation,” said Pam. “The atmosphere was amazing – just like at all the disabled events in this country.
“Everybody has been really supportive – maybe if there was more sport in the world, there would be less war!”