In hot Pursuit of Tokyo Gold
By Damian Dolan
Katie-George Dunlevy and her pilot Eve McCrystal will be looking to defend their Paralympic title at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Crawley born and raised Dunlevy, and Dundalk-native McCrystal, won gold at Rio 2016 in the 33.6km Time Trial.
They also took silver in the Road Race, as well as finishing fifth in the Individual pursuit on the track.
At Tokyo, Dunlevy and McCrystal begin their medal quest on the track in the 1000m Time Trial on 26 August.
Two days later they’ll go in the 3000m Individual pursuit, an event in which they claimed silver at last year’s world championships in Canada. The New Zealand pair who took gold have since retired, and that could open the door for the Irish duo.
Dunlevy, whose father John is from Donegal, and McCrystal will then hit the road as they look to defend their Paralympic Time Trial title on 31 August. They go in the Road Race on 3 September.
The tandem pair warmed up for Tokyo by claiming double silver at the World Championships in Portugal in June.
Dunlevy and McCrystal finished second behind the British riders in both the 33.6km Time Trial, and again in the Road Race.
Tokyo will be Dunlevy’s third Paralympic Games, having finished fifth at London 2012 in the Road Race, 3k Pursuit and Time Trial.
Part of a seven-strong Ireland Para Cycling team, Dunlevy and McCrystal are the only members of the team with previous Paralympic experience.
Ronan Grimes, Richael Timothy, Gary O’Reilly and the tandem pair of Martin Gordon and Eamon Byrnes will all be competing at their first Games.
The Opening Ceremony takes place at the Olympic Stadium on 24 August, with the action getting underway the following day. The Games end on 5 September.
Ireland will be represented by a 29-strong team of athletes in Tokyo, with medal hopes high on the track, led by Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop.
Smyth, the world’s fastest Paralympian, will be competing at his fourth Games. He goes in the 100m on 29 August.
The Derry-native, who has never lost a competitive Para Athletics race, will hoping to add to his gold medal haul. He won double gold in the100m and 200m at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, and gold in the 100m at Rio 2016.
More recently, he also claimed 100m gold at the 2019 world championships in Dubai.
Like Smyth, McKillop is also a four-time Paralympian.
The Belfast athlete, who overcome serious injury to make the Irish team, will be looking to add to his 1500m gold medals from Rio and London. He also took gold in the 800m at London and Beijing 2008.
McKillop goes for gold in Tokyo in the 1500m on 3 September.
World Championship bronze medallist Niamh McCarthy will be out to go one better than the silver medal she won five years ago in Rio, when she competes in the discus on 1 September.
European 1500m champion, Greta Streimikyte, Wheelchair marathon athlete, Patrick Monahan and Orla Comerford (100m) will also be competing at their second Paralympic Games.
In swimming, World Championship medallists Ellen Keane and Nicole Turner (Laois) will fly the flag for Ireland in the pool.
Dubliner Keane will be competing in her fourth Paralympic Games having first represented Ireland at Beijing in 2008.
The youngest member of Team Ireland at the Paralympics is 16-year-old Róisín Ní Ríain from Limerick.
The swimmer announced herself on the world stage when she claimed a bronze medal at the recent European Championships, on her first appearance at a major championships.
Phil Eaglesham, who competed at Rio 2016, is another strong Irish contender for a medal in para shooting.
Eaglesham, from Dungannon in Northern Ireland, secured his place at the Tokyo Paralympic Games with an outstanding performance at the World Championships in Australia in 2019 when he won Ireland’s first-ever World Championship medal in Para Shooting.
Team Ireland’s Athletes for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games:
Colin Judge (Para Table Tennis), Phil Eaglesham (Para Shooting), Britney Arendse (Para Power Lifting), Kerrie Leonard (Para Archery), Pat O’Leary (Para Canoe); Ellen Keane, Nicole Turner, Róisín Ní Ríain, Barry McClements and Patrick Flanagan (Para Swimming); Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal, Martin Gordon & Eamon Byrnes, Richael Timothy, Gary O’Reilly and Ronan Grimes (Para Cycling) and the 4 person Para Equestrian squad of Kate Kerr Horan, Rosemary Gaffney, Michael Murphy and Tamsin Addison.
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