Ireland’s most successful Paralympians in Tokyo 2020, Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal, are aiming to secure early qualification for the 2024 Paralympic Games at next month’s paracycling track World Championships.
Nations ranking points are available at the championships in Saint-Quentine-en-Yvelines, Paris, and with one early qualification slot possible for both the men’s and women’s events, Dunlevy is feeling good about their chances.
“We are always aiming high, and hopefully that will be on the podium and gaining points from the 3K and 1K events towards that slot for the end of the year. That is the aim,” Dunlevy told the Irish Times on Thursday. “I think we are very positive about securing that slot by the end of the year. I have had an extremely successful year and the squad are raring to get out on the track and get as many points as possible as we can in different races and disciplines.
“I think that, as well as the points we have got from the World Cups, the World Championships and the European championships, we will hopefully secure that slot.”
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Dunlevy and McCrystal will lead a nine-rider team from Ireland. They were the country’s most successful Paralympians in the Tokyo Games held last year, netting two golds and a silver medal across road and track. They previously won gold and silver medals at the 2016 Games.
Their career successes also include six road World Championship titles plus the Paracycling World Cup series title they sealed in August.
Dunlevy and McCrystal will target the pursuit and kilo races, as will the men’s tandem of Damien Vereker and Marcin Mizgajski. Another tandem duo, Martin Gordon and Eoin Mullen, will set their sights on the kilo and sprint events.The lineup also includes three riders targeting individual events, with European road champion Ronan Grimes and Chris Burns lining out in the pursuit, kilo, scratch and omnium races.
Richael Timothy will contest the women’s pursuit, 500m, scratch and omnium.
”The UCI Paracycling Track Worlds are the last major competition goal in 2022 for the paracycling team,” said Team Ireland head coach Neill Delahaye. “We are aiming for a consistent showing from all our athletes across all races.
“With one female and one male qualification slot available at the end of this year, everyone will be doing their utmost to perform at their best and earn adequate Nations ranking points to secure those two early quota places.”
If that criteria is achieved, slots go towards the country rather than individual riders, but their past success suggests that Dunlevy and McCrystal would be the logical nominees for that slot. Dunlevy said that they will go into the competition in an ambitious frame of mind. “Every opportunity we have to get points at competitions we take. The track worlds is the last race of the year and hopefully we can get the some valuable points towards that slot and confirm those two slots, the female and the men’s slot.”
Those points aside, another additional benefit of the world championships is that it will familiarise the riders with the venue for the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games. ”The velodrome in Saint-Quentine-en-Yvelines is the track cycling location for Paris 2024 which also gives us an early opportunity to race at the Games venue,” Delahaye explained. “That will be a valuable experience for the riders and support team.
“We have not raced on the track since Tokyo and everyone is looking forward to getting back on the boards for some fast and hard racing.”
Team Ireland selection for Paracycling track world championships, Paris, October 20-23:
Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal – Pursuit & Kilo
Ronan Grimes – Pursuit, Kilo, Scratch, Omnium*
Richael Timothy - Pursuit, 500, Scratch, Omnium*
Chris Burns - Pursuit, Kilo, Scratch, Omnium*
Martin Gordon and Eoin Mullen – Kilo & Sprint
Damien Vereker and Marcin Mizgajski – Pursuit & Kilo
*The Omnium event for Grimes, Burns and Dunlevy combines the performances in their other three races with the results from the flying-start 200 metre time trial, giving them their Omnium points total.