Paralympics hero Dunlevy: I'm so proud of Tokyo medal haul
It has been a summer to remember for Crawley-born Irish Paralympic cyclist Katie-George Dunlevy.
The 39-year-old, alongside pilot Eve McCrystal, scooped two golds and a silver at the Tokyo Paralympics. bettering their tally at Rio five years ago.
The twosome claimed silver in the B 3,000m individual pursuit on Saturday, August 28. The Irish pair finished just behind Team GB’s Lora Fachie and Corinne Hall.
But Dunlevy and McCrystal struck gold in the women’s B time trial at the Fuji International Speedway three days later.
The duo recorded a time of 47.32.07 to finish ahead of the British pairing of Lora Fachie and Corinne Hall and retain the Paralympic crown they won at Rio 2016.
Dunlevy and McCrystal then bagged their second gold on Friday, September 3.
The golden pair posted a time of 2.35.53 in the women’s B road race to see off Swedish pair Louise Jannering and Anna Svaerdstroem, and British duo Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl.
On their achievements, Dunlevy said: “I’m so proud of us. It’s been five years of hard work, sacrifices, as it has been for all athletes, but it’s been testing at times.
“It’s hard to get a medal at the Paralympics, and to come away with another gold, I’m absolutely delighted. I’m over the moon.
“It was really a team effort for it to come together on the day, but I’m really proud of what we achieved.”
Remarkably Dunlevy and McCrystal took home three of Ireland’s seven medals at the Tokyo Games.
And the Paralympic hero said their success had still yet to sink in.
“It’s absolutely mad to think that! It’s still sinking in what we’ve achieved really.
“It’s a lot to take on in terms of preparation mentally and physically for the races. It was challenging but I really enjoyed it out there, and we enjoyed the races as much as we could.
“I think it showed what a great team we are, but also that we are great athletes individually.”
Dunlevy said retaining their time trial crown was was at the forefront of their minds, and success in that event set them up nicely for gold in the road race.
She said: “The time trial for us was the biggest aim after the pursuit, where we got silver.
“The time trial was what we won at Rio, so we were defending that. That was a huge race for us.
“To achieve that and win that again was absolutely unbelievable. We had a fantastic race, the race of our lives.
“Us getting the effort out and having belief and confidence in each other, and hoping we could do our best and get a medal, which we did, was absolutely amazing.
“We had a fantastic ride. Really, we demolished the field. We won by over a minute which is massive in the time trial, especially after losing to GB who we lost to in the World Championships in June.
“After that, if anything you’re relaxed. You’ve got that medal in the time trial, and the road race is a lottery.
“You can’t really think too much about it because you don’t know what’s going to happen on the day. It’s tactics and luck.
“We were going into it thinking, we’ve got medals, let’s see what happens. But of course we wanted to do well.
“You kind of celebrate the time trial. You have media and you get pictures. But when you wake up the next day you’re thinking about the next race.
“You need to recover and repair and prepare for the racing coming up.
“Mentally, you can’t get too excited and use energy up celebrating that medal because you’ve got another big race coming up.
“We had four races one after the other, and mentally and physically we had to prepare for each one. We were going from the track to the road, which is a completely different discipline.
“You appreciate what you achieve and then you move it one side. You just get ready for the next race.”
You can read more from Paralympic hero Katie-George Dunlevy in next week’s Crawley Observer and online at crawleyobserver.co.uk/sport.