Two wheels good for Ireland as Dunlevy and McCrystal add to medal haul

Cycling has brought us 14 medals in the last three Games – 41% of overall total of 34

Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal celebrate winning their second  gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics on Friday. Photograph: Casey B Gibson/Inpho

Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal celebrate winning their second gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics on Friday. Photograph: Casey B Gibson/Inpho

 

Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal produced another stunning performance at a rain-lashed Fuji International Speedway circuit to claim a second gold medal – they also won silver in the Velodrome – in the Tokyo Paralympics, this time in the tandem road race.

Two Paralympics, five medals, three gold and two silver are the broad numerical brushstrokes for a dynamic duo that have once again successfully fought for a place on the front page of Irish sport just as they did in Rio five years ago. On that occasion they won a gold and silver medal, upgrading on the latter with their latest triumph.

Cycling has been a handsome contributor to Ireland’s medal haul over the last three Games, 14 in all: four in Tokyo, five in Rio (2016) and five in London (2012). That’s a 41 per cent contribution – from an overall total of 34 medals with a couple of days remaining in Japan to add to the cumulative tally.

While Irish cyclists did not make the podium in Beijing (2008), Mark Rohan (two gold), Catherine Walsh (silver, bronze) and James Brown (bronze) did so in London while Eoghan Clifford (gold, bronze), Colin Lynch (bronze) and the Dunlevy/McCrystal (gold, silver) axis matched that five-medal haul in Brazil.

Tagged on

The Irish women’s tandem has tagged on three more in Japan along with a bronze for Gary O’Reilly, chipping in with four of Ireland’s seven medals to date. The 29-strong Ireland team that travelled to Tokyo is considerably smaller than those that went to Rio (48) and London (49), while from the perspective of medals the recent high point was 16 in the English capital, to 11 in Rio and now seven.

It’s certainly not a diminution in performance terms as those metrics can be gauged through the number of personal bests that the Irish athletes have accumulated in Japan.

The five-strong Irish swim team managed 19 personal best times and reached 10 finals, with Ellen Keane winning gold and Nicole Turner silver medals

Quite apart from a smaller Ireland team, the standards and records across all sports have risen exponentially since the Beijing Games. To illustrate the point, more than 200 records were broken in Rio, and in Tokyo world and Paralympic records have tumbled like confetti; in the first two days of the Games in Japan, 12 world records alone were broken.

The five-strong Irish swim team managed 19 personal best times and reached 10 finals, with Ellen Keane winning gold and Nicole Turner silver medals. The performance of 16-year-old Limerick teenager Róisín Ní Ríain in reaching five finals – Turner did the same in 2016 – augurs well for the Paris Paralympics in three years’ time.

Tricky bit

Ireland’s greatest Paralympian, sprinter Jason Smyth, has intimated that he may go to the French capital to try to win a fifth 100-metres gold medal while Dunlevy is keen to continue on; the tricky bit will be persuading McCrystal.

It is apposite to leave the final words with Dunlevy on a day when 61,000 received their Leaving Cert results. “I struggled at school, I found school really hard. I was diagnosed at 11. I would have liked to have been able to say to my younger self then that everything is going to be okay; great things can happen.

“Just believe in yourself, there are things you can do, and that is what I would tell someone young with sight issues at home watching this.”

The central tenet of that message is relevant way beyond sport, particularly for those who cannot immediately see the future they crave.

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