Dunlevy & McCrystal scoop Road Race silver at Rio 2016

Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal will be celebrating once more this afternoon, having won their second medal of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, this time in the Women’s Tandem Road Race, finishing strong to take silver.

The talented duo, who stormed home to Time Trial gold on Wednesday, put in a committed and determined performance in tough conditions in Rio’s Pontal area. The planned 90km race was cut to 75km following a delayed start due to a crash in an earlier race. The composed duo put themselves towards the front of the race for the majority of the mountainous course to win Ireland’s fifth cycling medal at this year’s Games.

The shortened race was a tough one. Dunlevy and McCrystal said; “It was altogether until the steep climb, we stayed to the front. Neill [Delahaye] told us to ride the climb at our pace. We are not the kind of bike that will respond to attack and repeat attack on the hill, and our own pace happened to match the best climbers. We were just with them – there was a break up the hill, break behind us. We worked well stayed with the Poles on the steep climb, but on the descent she just pushed it too much for us. She’s raced with us enough so she knew if she pushed she’d get a back. We kept fighting the whole way - we’ll take silver.”

In the Men’s race Peter Ryan and Marcin Mizgajski finished 12th in a race that had been animated by an early break by Damien Vereker and Sean Hahessy that had stayed clear for over half the race. They pulled out a lead of over 1 minute in the opening 15km lap and over the next two laps they extended the lead marginally, with Ryan and Mizgajski comfortable in the main peloton. The earlier crash shortened the men’s race to just under 100km, with 40km of the race taking part on the flat coast road followed by two laps of a mountainous circuit. A combination of the heat and effort forced the Irish pairing of Hahessy and Vereker to withdraw from the competition. Ryan and Mizgajski came home in 12th place in a race that was won by Holland’s Vincent ter Schure and Timo Fransen.

Speaking after Ryan and Mizgajski were delighted with their result describing a tough race; “It was a really, really hard race, one of the hardest we’ve done. We came into it with the pressure off us but we wanted to win it, we wanted to do well in it.”

Elsewhere for Team Ireland; James Scully Ireland’s last swimmer in action at the 2016 Paralympic Games, has progressed to the S5 100m Freestyle final on the last day of racing at the Rio Aquatic Centre. Ranked just outside the top eight going in to the event, Scully put in an impressive performance, swimming a lifetime best to touch the wall in 1:21.15 to finish fifth in his heat. He goes into tonight’s final in an outside lane, ranked eighth.

Speaking after today’s race, the 23-year-old commented: “I’m really happy, I’m very happy to make the final, I was looking to push into the final, I was on the outside looking in I suppose, with one ranking to go and a substantial time to make up, but I think chasing the Italian lad, I think  he was slightly off his best, when I saw his time I knew that was the target, if I get in ahead of him, I get into the final so I’m happy with that.”

Looking ahead to tonight’s final he said: “I’m definitely looking to squeeze a good bit more out of that performance, I’m happy and positive and confident.”

Scully’s final will take place at 11.28pm (Ireland), with Brazilian superstar Daniel Dias the fastest qualifier going in with a time of 1:15.08.

It was the last day in the boat for Ireland’s Sonar sailing crew as well today, as John Twomey, Ian Costelloe and Austin O’Carroll took part in Race 11 of the Paralympic Regatta where they finished in 14th position to put them 13th in the fleet overall.

Speaking afterwards, a disappointed John Twomey said: “Conditions were nice for us, we had a very good start, we were fourth around the first few marks, but halfway up the Brazilians came along and banged into us and we went into a spin and before we could get back on track, the fleet was gone.

“I’ve had a great Paralympic career,” Twomey, who stated that this will be his final Games stated. “Probably didn’t want to finish it that way, but what can you do. It’s been an honour to represent Ireland.”

FeatureMary McGuireNews, Rio 2016