‘I’ve had my run’ - Martyn Irvine retires from international career
Ireland’s best ever track rider, he won the world championship scratch race in 2013
Ireland’s Martyn Irvine competes in the Men’s Omnium II Individual Pursuit 4km event at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships last February. Photograph: Getty Images
Three years after he took Ireland’s best-ever track result, Martyn Irvine has decided to call time on his international career. The Irish cyclist announced his retirement Tuesday, saying that he had been unable to apply the same dedication that he felt was necessary to succeed at the top level.
“I hated being a donkey last year,” he told The Irish Times, referring to not performing at his best. “I didn’t lose the love, but feel that something is gone in my head and I am just not enjoying it.
“I just hate to turn up every race and not perform as I should. I’ve had my run, I reckon.”
Irvine is just 30 years of age and could conceivably have continued until the 2020 Olympics, if not beyond. He had originally targeted Rio after underperforming in London 2012, and seemed to be moving to a new level when he won the world championship scratch race in Minsk. He also took silver in the individual pursuit at the same championships.
The results saw him take the first Irish worlds title since Harry Reynolds won the world amateur sprint title back in 1896.
While he left Minsk on a high, he ran into complications weeks later. He crashed heavily in the Tour of Taiwan and fractured his femur, putting him on the sidelines for months. He fought back to take bronze in the European championship omnium that October, and then finished second in the defence of his world scratch race title in February 2014.
The results showed that he was close to where he had been before his crash, but more complications lay ahead. In October of that year he was one of the Irish squad that crashed heavily towards the end of their team pursuit qualification round in the Europeans.
The next month he then hit the deck again in round one of the UCI World Cup track series, fracturing his collarbone.
The net effect was that he was on the back foot in amassing the points needed for Olympic qualification and while he returned to racing after his injury healed, he was unable to regain the lost momentum in time to secure a slot in Rio.
“I was coming back when everyone was at their peak and I was just getting a kicking,” he said. “It was just not nice. It got me in the head. I don’t like to be just pack filler, I like to be racing. I haven’t really been properly in a race for over a year now, to be honest.”
Irvine hopes to remain within the sport in some capacity, but is unsure of his next step. Aside from the medals gained in worlds, European and Commonwealth championships, his performances also helped the campaign for the first Irish indoor velodrome.
That is expected to be constructed prior to the 2020 Games, and will an important legacy of the Newtownards rider’s career.