Rebecca Redfern will bring a silver medal back to her one-year-old son Patrick after a thrilling 100m breaststroke S13 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
The 21-year-old gave birth to Patrick last July and acknowledges that the Covid delay had allowed her to compete at her second Paralympic Games, having also won silver in this event in Rio.
And while Redfern has had to do all this with her family, and particularly her little boy, back home in the UK, it has well and truly been a team effort.
She said: “I’m overwhelmed, just really, really happy. I’m excited to go home and see my little boy, just really happy.
“I was so nervous that all of that anxious energy just came out in the first 50m. And bringing it home, my body felt like it was shutting off with 10 metres to go and I just tried to really push it.
“I couldn’t have done it without the support I’ve got at home. It’s insane how tough everything has been, but I hope I’ve proved to everyone that you don’t have to stop doing something you love because of something.
“Pools were all shut so we had a hot tub in the garden and I was training in that for a couple of months. Then pools opened but we didn’t have full pool time because of Covid.
“It’s been a really hit and miss, am I going to get there? Am I going to swim my best? Looking back, it’s amazing what I’ve actually achieved.
“My family, my parents have been absolutely amazing. My brothers, my partner, my coach, just everyone. They say it takes a village to raise a child and it definitely does.
“It means so much more. The time away, it has been a long three weeks but I hope I’ve made him proud. He will be able to look back on all of this for so many years and tell all of his friends. I’m so proud to do this for him.”
Redfern looked like she might claim gold after leading the race at the turn, only for Germany’s Elena Krawzow to chase her down on the second length.
But with her life having changed completely in the last year, Redfern was able to take a step back and appreciate just what she had achieved.
“I’m a lot more relaxed as an athlete, I’m not focusing on the little things in sessions that might go wrong or anything, if I have a bad session, it’s OK because I’ve got a life outside and he needs me to be happy,” she added.
“Your body goes through a lot of changes with pregnancy and breastfeeding.
“When it was postponed, it felt like fate and that they’d given me time to recover and prepare for the Games. I felt like I had to come in, I had to give it my all, and that’s what I did.”
Meanwhile, Zara Mullooly narrowly missed out on the medal in the 400m freestyle S10 as she came home in fourth.
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