Ellen Keane has called for more people to be allies of people with disabilities ©Getty Images

Ireland's Paralympic bronze medallist Ellen Keane has said she needs to be mentally strong every day amid the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic ahead of Tokyo 2020, and wants people to have a greater focus on the Games. 

Keane, seeking to compete in swimming at a fourth Paralympic Games, told the Irish Independent that the concerns over COVID-19 and the fate of Tokyo 2020 were a challenge.

"Yes, it is affecting me," Keane told the Irish Independent.

"I’m doing everything I can to stay safe.

"In the supermarket the other day there were too many people in my space and when I came home I had to cry, I was so anxious and overwhelmed.

"Mentally, I have to be strong every day, to constantly be in the training zone."

Keane, who competed at Beijing 2008 aged 13, also criticised media organisations for treating the Paralympic Games as an afterthought, with focus placed on the Olympics.

The 25-year-old also posted on social media highlighting the difference between Paralympians and Olympians, adding that she was proud to represent people with disabilities.

"I get called an Olympian A LOT," Keane wrote.

"And usually it’s by people who recognise the hard work & dedication I’ve put into my sport over the years.

"You see the high performance element and I LOVE that & I’m so grateful you see that.

"But I am a Paralympian, not an Olympian.

"The Paralympic Movement uses sport to showcase how powerful, how strong and how great a person with a disability is if you just give them an opportunity.

"I represent people with disabilities, not just my country.

"I am proud of that, be proud of that with me.

"Words are powerful.

"So proudly say Paralympics and become an ally for people with disabilities.

"Create opportunities and embrace how powerful differences can be."