KILMORE-raised Paralympian Ahmed Kelly will return home from Tokyo with a silver medal around his neck after finishing second in the men’s 150-metre individual medley SM3 final on Saturday evening.
Kelly finished in a time of 3:02.23, 5.24 seconds behind gold medal winner Jesus Hernandez of Mexico.
It was Kelly’s first ever medal at the Paralympics after he competed at London in 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
He won a silver medal in the 150m individual medley SM3 at the World Para Swimming Championships in London two years ago.
In a post on social media, Kelly said the Paralympic final was a moment he would savour.
“What a special night and one to store in the memory bank,” he said.
“My goal was to finish top-three at a Paralympic Games and after three attempts Tokyo 2020 was it!”
Kelly thanked everyone who had sent support and well wishes via social media, email or text messages.
He also thanked his friend and fellow Australian Grant ‘Scooter’ Patterson, who finished third in the final and claimed a bronze medal.
“I feel very honoured and privileged to represent Australia,” he said.
“A huge congrats to my best friend [Grant Patterson] for getting on the podium too and for always pushing me in the pool. Now I’m officially on the cheer squad and behind the Aussie mob.”
The race capped a successful meet for Kelly, after he also qualified for the final of the men’s 50m breaststroke SB3. He finished seventh in that final on Wednesday night.
Kelly was raised in Kilmore after he and his twin brother Emmanuel were adopted by humanitarian Moira Kelly from an orphanage in Iraq in 1998.
He was born with underdeveloped arms and legs attributed to the use of chemical weapons in Iraq in the 1990s, and had surgery in Australia to remove them.
Ms Kelly then adopted and raised Ahmed and Emmanuel in Kilmore.
Ahmed began swimming in Kilmore before eventually travelling to Melbourne for more specialised training.
Kilmore Swimming Club posted a congratulatory message to Kelly after his silver medal win.