The proud parents of Aberdeen Paralympic swimming star Toni Shaw say it has been “fantastic” to watch her perform on the big stage in Tokyo, albeit through the TV.
Shona and Martin Shaw hosted a party for friends and family in the Granite City this morning as Toni, 18, swam her final two races at the Games – the individual S9 100m butterfly final, as well as the 34pt 100m medley relay.
The University of Aberdeen Performance Swim Team athlete had already won her first Paralympic medal when taking bronze in the S9 400m freestyle on August 24.
There were to be no more medals in Japan for the up-and-coming pool sensation, who came an agonising fourth in the 100m fly, before earning another fourth-place finish with her Great Britain team-mates in the relay.
Nevertheless, the Tokyo Paralympics have seen Toni’s career take another leap forward, following her 2018 Commonwealth Games campaign with Scotland and then multiple-medal performance at the 2019 World Para-swimming Championships.
Toni’s mum and dad, Shona and Martin, as well as her sister Alex, haven’t been able to join her at her maiden Paralympics due to the Japanese authorities’ decision to stage the Games behind closed doors.
However, Martin explained how seeing Toni reach the pinnacle of her sport has made all the years of early-morning lifts to training and road trips to competitions worthwhile.
He said: “It’s been fantastic to see Toni there. It’s a shame we weren’t there, but we’re very glad the Paralympics went ahead.
“She’s our little girl after all and it feels very strange everybody wants to speak to her and, more so, speak to us.
“But we’re very glad people are taking an interest, and the friends and family supporting her is fantastic.
“It’s Shona who does all the early mornings. I do the longer travel.
“But absolutely (it’s been worth it).
“She’s up before us, making sure we turn up on time. We’re just the on-call taxi service.”
Shona revealed down-to-earth Toni has been keeping her bronze for the 400 free in a sock for safe-keeping
There won’t be much time to celebrate as a family once she flies back from the other side of the world – with Martin due to give former Albyn School pupil Toni a lift to Stirling to start university next week.
At such a busy time, it is perhaps too early to be talking about the success the still-developing Toni could have at future Paralympics, with Paris and Los Angeles the next two host cities.
Shona said: “There’s no pressure – she’ll do what she can.”
Martin added: “She was only 18 a few of weeks ago, so she’s still very young.
“Part of this has been her getting the experience and understanding what it’s all about.
“If she wants to keep going, we’ll be there to support her in whatever she wants to do next.”
Reflecting on her first Paralympics experience to Scottish Swimming following Thursday morning’s 100 fly final, Toni said: “It was such a fast race, there are world record holders, Paralympic champions, all those people in that race, so I knew it was going to be hard.
“I think I just have to be happy with my performances during the Games and then back training after a bit of a holiday.”
“These are my first Games so I’ve nothing to compare this experience to.
“It has been incredible to be in a place like Japan, the volunteers have been so warm and friendly, clapping and cheering us off the bus. The team have also been very supportive of one another and that has been great.
“I’m moving away from home and going to university in Stirling, so a new club and the start of my degree. Things will definitely be different, but I am looking forward to it.”