THE RACE TO RIO IS ON

THE RACE TO RIO IS ON
Katie-George and Eve McCrystal in action at the Paracycling World Road championships

Katie George Dunlevy’s Rio preparations are well under way

By Fiona O’Brien

Katie George Dunlevy has gotten her Paralympic preparations off to a perfect start recently, after she beat her Rio rivals in Belgium.

Over a four day competition, she and her tandem Eve McCrystle, overcame their toughest expected competition at the games from Britain, Canada and the rest of Europe to come up top overall. In the Paralympic games the pair will compete in four events; consisting of time trial, road races and track events.

The event in Belgium consisted of all of the above and the Irish team won three events, which with podium finishes on the road gave them the first-place finish at the end of the weekend. Crawley-born Dunlevy, who qualifies for Team Ireland through her father John’s Donegal roots, has made no secret of her team’s desire to medal in Rio.

“We had only really begun to train with each other when the London games in 2016 came around,” she told the Irish World.

“But after recovering from a really debilitating injury last year I feel fit and as a pair we are stronger than ever.

“We are targeting medals in three of our four events.”

THE RACE TO RIO IS ON

Beating their stiffest rivals will come as a huge morale boost with the Paralympics just months away, as they come into form at just the right time.

“Obviously no one wants to peak too soon and give too much away but it is important to get the mental win over your rivals too.”

On their Facebook page they said: “Well that’s a wrap! We were 2nd in the road race today.

“GB got us today. Well done girls good hard race. Well deserved.

“Finished winning overall white jersey, winning points pink jersey and second in sprints.

“A hard four days we both learned a lot. Lots to improve on.

“We are delighted with our three wins, it was the highlight of the weekend, on the top step hearing the national anthem!.. now to rest for a bit and then hit the grind stone again… UCI World Cup in Belgium in two weeks!”

This weekend sees Dunlevy and McCrystle return to Belgium for a World Cup event.

“Competition at at a world cup is normally huge but especially in a games year, you would love to have the edge over your rivals going into the games, it makes all the difference.”

Dunlevy and McCrystle are busy training in Spain in between competitions and were lucky enough to bump into star Irish rugby brothers Rob and Dave Kearney. Uploading onto their team’s Facebook page, the pair shared a photo with the Leinster backs, while McCrystle even took Dave out on the tandem bike for an impromptu training session.

Meanwhile Dunlevy’s connections are helping the pair fundraise as much as possible to help with training and travel costs. John Dunlevy is preparing for a charity night in Crawley on Saturday, June 4.

People are so far sponsoring him to shave his head to raise money to put towards the girls’ quest for Paralympic glory.

“There’s been loads of interest and sponsorship so far, although some people have said they’ll pay for me NOT to shave it off so maybe we’ll try a bit of both,” he jokes.

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