Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal have cemented their status as one of the world’s best tandem pair as they stormed home to win gold for Ireland at the Fuji International Speedway.
In Rio 2016, the Irish pair won gold in the Women’s B Time Trial event and five years later in Tokyo, the dynamic duo showed incredible speed and endurance to defend their Paralympic title and simultaneously claim their second medal of the Games.
Dunlevy and McCrystal won the time trial in a time of 47 minutes 32.07 seconds to finish well clear of Britain’s Lora Fachie and Corrine Hall, who were second in a time of 48:32.06. The GB pair pipped the Irish duo to gold in the B 3000M Individual Pursuit at the weekend and earlier this year broke Dunlevy and McCrystal’s road dominance at the UCI Para Cycling Road World Championships, as they beat them by 30 seconds.
If there were any doubts in the Irish pair’s mind heading into the final, it didn’t show. Dunlevy and McCrystal posted the fastest split times over 8km, 16km, 24km and the final stretch – clocking a phenomenal average speed of 40km/h in the Tokyo heat.
Speaking after their gruelling 32-kilometre race, Katie-George Dunlevy said;
“It means the world to me, working for five years towards this. We wanted to come here and retain the title but really wanted to get the best out of ourselves and have a good ride and hope that would give us a medal and then a gold medal.
She went on to say “Just for kids or adults at home with a visual impairment that our success today shows that you can do anything you want to do. There is nothing you can’t do. This might inspire them and I know it gives pride to the people at home and just up lift people after two of the pandemic.
Eve McCrystal is the current national time trial champion and the pilot for Katie-George Dunlevy in the tandem cycling pair. McCrystal revealed there were nerves going into the race after they were beaten by the GB crew earlier this year.
“When we got silver at the World Champs, I lost that for us on technical ability. So today I was a little bit worried with the technical aspects of this course – I prefer a power pan flat course. Today was different over and under course. I went around with Neil the last two days and I knew what to do. I just needed to execute that. It flowed really, really well.”
Earlier this morning, Richael Timothy was the first of the Irish to experience competing on the Fuji International Speedway. The young Paralympian competed in the C3 Time Trial but she found the circuit to be a gruelling opponent. Timothy battled gamely throughout and recorded a time of 30:55.24 to finish in 14th place overall.
After the race Timothy said “It was really hard to be honest. Just I found it so tough, not even the hilly parts but the technical parts. For me my right side is so much weaker, so when I’m going I kind of, not panicked, but I went to use my right hand the way I used to use it to and it caused a bit of a slip.
I had to slow down a bit in the bends, just be cautious going into them to keep upright. It is the hardest TT I have ever done. I pushed so hard today, and that’s what I wanted to do – just leave it all out there – I feel like I did that.
That was the hardest race I’ve done – I looked down at one point and my heart rate was 200 – I went as hard as I could.”
On the athletics track, Orla Comerford was the sole member of Team Ireland to compete at the Olympic Stadium. She competed in the 3rd heat of the T13 100m. Up against a competitive field, Comerford new that she would need a PB to progress.
The Raheny Shamrock athlete crossed the link in 4th place with a time of 12.87s – 0.43s off her personal best. It wasn’t enough to progress to the final and after the race the track star revealed the difficulties that she has head whilst preparing for today’s event.
“Today the goal unfortunately wasn’t time and progressing through, it was when I got on the plane to Tokyo, and it was, in our opinion, a very realistic and achievable goal to be making that final and being competitive in it.
You know, the expectation for this games have shifted an number of times this year with injury and we’ve had to adapt to those changes and unfortunately one of them came on the last day of training camp in Narita where I sustained a small tear in my quad so for me the last couple of weeks have been all about being in a position where I could go out and line up on the track.
Orla Comerford paid this heartfelt tribute to her coach Brian Corcoran who passed away before the @Paralympics thanks to Orla & @ParalympicsIRE for taking time to speak with us after her race despite all the emotion. Orla is a superstar and will be back #Paris2024 pic.twitter.com/zdbVCK1ZUr— Darren Frehill (@Darrenfrehill) August 31, 2021
Comerford paid heartfelt tribute to her coach Brian Corcoran who passed away before the Paralympic Games.
“Lining up was incredibly important for me with losing my coach, Brian Corcoran, two weeks ago. I saw him the day I left and I know that he was incredibly proud of me being here and being on the plane so for me it was about lining up and being there and I think he was with me every step of the way.
“To his family who have been so incredibly strong and so incredibly kind, I’m sure this has been an incredibly difficult time for them, it’s been a very difficult time for all of us, it was really hard being here by myself, I was lonely not being at home with the Raheny Shamrocks gang and his family and everything like that but I know that, at the end of the day, this is where he wanted me to be, he told me as much and so mu goal was to be out there and, while I knew I couldn’t make him proud with the times and the performance I hoped that he would be proud of my resilience and my drive to be out there on the starting line.”