A great Championships from an Irish viewpoint as the UCI World Paracycling Championships ended in Carson, L.A.
Irish spirit and determination shone on final day of competition as Catherine Walsh and pilot Fran Meehan added tandem sprint bronze to their gold three days ago in the 3km Tandem Pursuit.
In the morning’s qualification round, the pair set a new Irish record of 12.259 to leave them in fourth place and secure the last available place in the afternoon’s sprint finals.
The Irish girls were drawn against favourites GB in the first two heats. Catherine and Fran rode very shrewdly but the experience of the British duo shone through and they took both heats. This result ensured a “best of 3″ series against Germany for the bronze medal.
The plan was to lead out and maintain pressure on the straights to prevent the Germans passing. This worked well in the first heat and the Irish pair triumphed narrowly. Similar tactics were employed in the second heat and by the bell, the Irish pair had pulled away to win comfortably.
The men’s tandem pairing of Andrew Fitzgerald and Con Collis put in a good performance to record a time of 11.631. This left them in 17th place.
Similarly, the team sprint squad of Colin Lynch, Enda Smyth and Cathal Miller finished just outside the top 10, taking 11th place in a new Irish record time of 56.840.
The unexpected bonus of a sprint medal crowned Ireland’s best ever Track World Championships. Ireland finished an impressive seventh in the medal tally out of 31 countries.
The tremendous performances by the squad will likely ensure that Ireland secures its target of at least six places for London 2012 (to be decided shortly). Many congratulations to the athletes, manager Denis Toomey, coaches and support staff – there’s a lot to look forward to!
Great times then for Irish Paracycling. Remember that the Irish Paracycling team head to London 2012 with the current World Champions in 5 disciplines. As CEO Paralympics Ireland’s Liam Harbison tweeted : “So proud our IRL’s ParaCycling Team – 4 medals from World Track Champs in LA. Stunning achievement especially as no velodrome in IRL”