That was some weekend of sporting success for Ireland on the biggest stages. Double World Championship medal success in Cycling was backed up by Double Bronze on the track at the European Indoor Athletics Championship and Silver for the Irish Showjumping Team at the Florida Nations Cup as well as for Natalya Coyle in Pentathlon’s World Cup in Cairo.
Mark Downey got the weekend off to a flying start when taking Bronze at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Poland.
“That was crazy out there now, Downey said after the 40 KM, 160 lap race. “I’ve had so many ups and downs the last year and a half of my career. I had a crash on the track, finished fourth in the National Championships Road Race and I was bawling my eyes out after it.”
“I was always there or thereabouts in races, but, I never really picked up that win – I was beaten by inches in the summer at the Tour de l’Avenir – so I’ve had that feeling of being fourth so many times in my career.
“I just got that urge with eight laps to go, I said: ‘I can’t feel like this again, this literally can’t happen to me again. If this happens to me again, I’ll get the nickname, the Nearly Man’.
“That result is just for all the staff at Cycling Ireland and all the people behind me, my family, all the support staff, everyone that’s just got me up every morning, just kept me on the straight and narrow.”
Downey’s success was followed up by Lydia Boylan on Sunday, taking a similar Bronze medal in the Women’s Points Race over 25 KM and 100 Laps of the track.
They were Ireland’s first medals at this level since Martyn Irvine won Silver in 2014 and are a major boost as the start of building work on the new national Velodrome at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus comes onto the horizon.
On Friday Natalya Coyle won Silver in the latest round of the Pentathlon World Cup in Cairo, the second time she has achieved this level of success on a world stage and a brilliant marker for the season ahead.
Also on Sunday night Ciara Mageean and Mark English produced double Bronze for Ireland in the Women’s 1,500 M and the Men’s 800 M at the European Indoor Athletics Championships.
“I run to wear the green, white and gold,” said Mageean after her triumph in Glasgow. “It’s brilliant to be back on the podium. I went out there to run my best race.”
The Irish Showjumping team focus for this year is on securing Olympic Qualification and while there were no points on offer for the Florida Nations Cup it was a major boost to finish runners up to the host United States after a jump off to determine Gold.
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Image Credit: Sam Barnes, Sportsfile