Eve McCrystal: ‘We have our medal but we want two more’

McCrystal and Katie George Dunlevy will take huge confidence into next week’s road races

 Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal of Ireland with their silver medals after  the women’s B 3,000 metre individual pursuit final medal ceremony at the Izu Velodrome  in Shizuoka. Photograph: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal of Ireland with their silver medals after the women’s B 3,000 metre individual pursuit final medal ceremony at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka. Photograph: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

 

The silver medal success of Katie George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal at the Paralympic Games on Saturday is a further addition to the glittering haul the duo have amassed during their racing careers.

The tandem pair set a new world record for the 3000 metre individual pursuit during the heats, averaging slightly over 54 kilometre per hour in defeating the Polish team of Justyna Kiryla and Aleksandra Teclaw.

And while their time of 3 minutes 19.946 was soon improved by the British pair of Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall, who further bettered the record to 3 minutes 19.483 seconds, Dunlevy and McCrystal had confirmation that they were in superb form. Fachie and Hall ultimately prevailed in the gold medal final, recording three minutes 19.560 versus the three minutes 21.505 of their Irish rivals, but Dunlevy and McCrystal were jubilant with their performances.

“I’m in a bit of shock,” Dunlevy admitted. “It is absolutely amazing. If someone said to me before that I would get a medal in the pursuit I would never have thought it in my wildest dreams. We were hoping to do a good ride and get a PB. To get that and a world record, I’m just speechless.”

The performance was a clear improvement on their fifth place in the same event in the Rio Paralympics, and bodes well in advance of the road events next week. They took gold in the time-trial and silver in the road race in Rio and, on the basis of their performance on Saturday, will head to the road events with confidence.

Dunlevy was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa aged 11. Her vision impairment led to her becoming a paracycling competitor and, after declaring for Ireland, teaming up with her tandem pilot McCrystal. The latter is a member of An Garda Síochána and, aside from Paralympic competition with Dunlevy, regularly competes in individual events in Ireland. She is the current national time-trial champion and won the national road-race title in 2018.

“I think we did ourselves proud,” she said on Saturday. “We left nothing to chance, no stone was left unturned by our coach Neill [Delahaye] and Cycling Ireland. He made sure that we would get here in the best possible form. To get that performance, I just can’t believe it. I’m so proud of Katie and I know she is proud of me – I am just so happy that we did this.

Ireland’s Katie George Dunlevy and her pilot Eve McCrystal compete in the women’s B 3000m individual pursuit final. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images
Ireland’s Katie George Dunlevy and her pilot Eve McCrystal compete in the women’s B 3000m individual pursuit final. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

“It’s six days a week, it is hard work. Katie is at home, she can’t get out on the road, I’m at home with the kids. There are constantly sacrifices that we make. It looks easy just to come here and do that performance there has been so much hard work behind the scenes for the two of us. We owe so much to so many people and this medal is for them as much as it is for us.”

She added that she hopes the result might be an additional incentive for the long-promised Abbotstown velodrome to be built, something which is crucial to develop the grassroots and the national scene. “This kind of a success might give the Government a kick to get that velodrome for our children.”

Dunlevy’s vision impairment means she must use a home trainer when she doesn’t have a tandem pilot to train with. Based near Gatwick Airport in England, she spent four and a half months of last year’s lockdown staying with McCrystal at her home in Dundalk so they could train together. In April she spent more time in Ireland, being based in Dublin, linking up with McCrystal weekly in Dundalk, and otherwise being able to train on the tandem with a local cyclist Jen Bates.

The pair also work together in Mallorca, where Cycling Ireland has access to an indoor velodrome and holds training camps.

She underlined the importance of the synergy that she and McCrystal have. “The relationship we have works because of the time we have together and it is about the respect we have for each other. We know what to say to each other, it is just that trust,” she said. “I trust in Eve, because I can’t see a thing on the back of the bike there. It is just because of the respect and pride for each other because we know what we put into it.”

Their attention will shift now to next Tuesday’s time-trial and then Friday’s road-race.

Looking at their past results on track and road, it is clear that the latter are their strongest events. They have two bronze medals in the individual pursuit at the track world championships to their credit; their road haul includes gold and silver from the time-trial and road-race at the Rio Paralympics, as well as five world championship victories.

“This evening we go to Fuji,” Dunlevy said. “We love the road, we can’t wait to go there.”

McCrystal is similarly focused. “We have our medal but we want two more.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.