Cycling | Ride With Me To Rio
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I’m a 24-year-old track cyclist, who has made history this year by becoming the first female Irish track cyclist to qualify for an Olympic Games.
Three years ago I was an endurance track cyclist, specialising in scratch races, where I was 3rd at the u23 European Cycling Championships behind Britain’s Laura Trott (Olympic Gold Medalist) – and having a disappointing World Track Cycling Championships, finishing in 12th.
I decided change was needed. I wanted to find out high I could get. I harboured an Olympic dream and pedalled towards it.
I made the cross over to an Olympic event, the Keirin*, only 6 months prior to the two-year qualification process, which involves 5 events annually – 3 World Cups and the European and World Championships.
The biggest obstacle I had to endure was my cross from an endurance rider to a sprinter. I started off slow and, for an athlete who went into races a medal hope, to just be in there making up numbers really killed me.
It took everything I had to keep pushing on and I’m so glad that I kept at it. I was able to get stronger and faster and began matching the world’s best sprinters.
Once I reached that level I then had to begin the qualification process, and that’s not easy. Firstly, I had to qualify my spot, individually, for the World Cups through Cat 1 events, which means I had to travel to Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and around Australia to attain points to reach the necessary rankings.
Aside from what the physical and mental efforts cost, this process was expensive as I funded my own way in the Cat 1 events, with the support of my family. But each time I had earned my qualifying spot, the governing body Cycling Ireland then stepped in to fund my travel, accommodation and other costs at the major events – like World Cups and Championships.
My road to Rio 2016 certainly hasn’t been the smoothest. This past year, prior to the World Cup season, I crashed in Adelaide, suffering a nasty concussion. Only two weeks later, I crashed again in Germany, fracturing my coccyx bone.
I was lucky enough to still gain enough points to qualify for the World Cups, then, two weeks out from the second World Cup in New Zealand, I was taken down in a hit-and-run incident out training on the road. I was left for dead on the side of the road. Luckily, I only suffered a concussion and was still able to race the World Cup race.
In keeping with the state of my luck, I was in hospital for three and half weeks, only three weeks out from the World Track Cycling Championships, with appendicitis.
I still had to race though. I had no choice, I had to race to qualify my spot so, with stitches still in and in agonising pain, I raced the World Championships and got enough points to qualify my spot and jump ahead of both Azerbaijan and Team GB.
All Roads Lead To Rio 2016
Now I’ve done it. I’ve qualified a spot in the Kierin at the Rio 2016 Olympics – the first female track cyclist ever to do so for Ireland – and my training is getting better and better.
My power, both in the gym and on the bike, just keeps rising and I’ve never been so positive of what I can achieve. Still only very young, I know I have much more ahead of me, but I’m going to leave it all out on the track in Rio.
My last month of training is drawing to close here in Melbourne ahead of a final training camp in Portugal. For me I can’t currently work with a 5hour round trip to training three times a week so financial support with training and travel is much appreciated. My final training camp – a four-week block in Portugal – ahead of leaving for Rio 2016 is now my only concern.
The budget has been set at €8,000, including my flights, accommodation, food, track hire, gym, massages and all other bits and bobs. This will be so crucial for me to arrive in Brazil ready for the Keirin and any help you can give me in funding it would be greatly appreciated.
I am really excited to have you join my support team and can’t wait to share my experiences and future successes with you. Your support in the final build up to the Olympics will help me greatly after I have self-funded the majority of my races around the world.
It will ease some stresses leading into the Rio 2016 Olympics and make sure I’m going in with the best chance possible.
Thanks very much for Listening to a little bit of my story. I hope you think it’s worth joining the next chapter.
*What’s the Keirin?
Keirin races use a power-assisted bicycle as a race pace-setting vehicle (the pacer). From the start of the race until the pacer leaves the track, the cyclists vie strenuously against each other to capture and hold the best position. The last lap is a final spurt that decides the outcome.