The winner of The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year Awards for December 2018 is swimmer and Sligo native Mona McSharry.
In the space of just three days at the Irish Short-Course Championships in Lisburn in December, McSharry collected six titles – 50, 100 and 200m freestyle, 100 and 200m individual medley and 100m breaststroke – as well as breaking six national records. Just about every time she dipped her toe in the pool she was excelling. The highlight for McSharry was the breaking of Michelle Smith's 23-year-old 100m freestyle record which she lowered again in the final later in the same day.
Next up for McSharry are the national championships at the end of March with July’s World Championships in South Korea the year’s key event. There’s the small matter, too, of the Tokyo Olympics the year after, her plan to take time off from her studies after the Leaving Certificate to focus purely on swimming, especially ensuring she qualifies for those 2020 Games.
Her end of year achievements proved to be a highly fitting conclusion to what was a remarkable spell for Irish sport, our sportswomen providing so many of the most memorable moments in 2018. But McSharry is actually kick-starting our new year of awards and has set the bar high.