“This Is A long Overdue Basic Infrastructure That Cycling Has Needed For Decades”

Eve McCrystal And Katie George Dunleavy React To Ireland’s Velodrome Centre Announcement

Intentions for a Velodrome and Badminton Centre were announced by the Government on Tuesday in the National Development Plan.

A move that will see the two resources instated on the Sport Ireland Campus in Abbotstown, 900 spectators will also be able to bear witness to the ongoings at the location which when concluded should be adequate to hold both National and European events.

Development Chairman Pat O’Connor believes it is a “significant milestone” for his jurisdiction and “Irish sport in general.”

“The velodrome and badminton centre [are] one of the key pieces of infrastructure included in a comprehensive and ambitious vision” he says.

“With the backing of Government, Sport Ireland can continue to plan with confidence and further develop the Sport Ireland Campus as a world-class sporting facility.”

Facility funding for active travel was also committed to with a major focus on walking and cycling amenities, but the main objective has been outlined as increasing support for elite performance programmes.

A duo that have in fact reached those highest of pedestals in the sport includes Eve McCrystal and Katie George Dunleavy who secured three medals at the Tokyo Paralympics in the summer, two of which were gold.

Picture: Casey B. Gibson/INPHO

“This is a long overdue basic infrastructure that cycling has needed for decades” says McCrystal.

“A Velodrome can provide a safe environment for kids on bikes a place for parents to bring their children to ride safely learn skills have fun in a sociable cycling environment, while also providing a perfect environment to identify future talent and train and develop performance squads.”

Dunlevy is of the same mindset, commenting that it is “integral to developing cycling in Ireland.”

“Skills, handling as well as speed, fitness etc can be learned and worked on on the track which transfers to all disciplines in cycling. Many of the world’s best road cyclists started on the track.”

For these world class athletes the lack of space to hone their talents has seen them have to travel to Cycling Ireland’s base in Palma, Mallorca, with their acclimatisation to the environment done in short spurts.

“Any of my track training has been done in mini blocks ahead of major championships. This works to a point but is not as effective as more regular sessions week in week out throughout the year.”

The statement then has clearly come as a welcome one, with Katie “excited that at last a velodrome will be coming to Ireland.”

“If we had a track in the country we wouldn’t be at a back foot before we even come to the races compared to our major competitors who do.”

“I’m also excited for the future generations to come and for the sport too” she says.

“Having spectators come to watch cycling in Ireland willraise the profile, and show how fantastic it is. It will be a real boost for the sport and hopefully the sportswomen and sportsmen representing the country.”

And Sports Ireland aren’t the only ones marking their cards in terms of future aspirations…

“I firmly believe we can be the best in the world” says McCrystal.

“We have the gene pool the talent pool and the expertise in this country. It really is a case of build it and they will come.”

Alanna Cunnane

Alanna is a Journalism student in Dublin City University and is passionate about all sport - in particular Ladies Football and Soccer! Alanna has made contributions to Ocean FM, the Final Whistle, the Sligo Champion and the Connacht Telegraph! She even has hosts her own podcast called 'Are You Still Listening?'
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