Tokyo Paralympic ambitions burn bright for Katie-George Dunlevy

39-year-old determined to be the very best she can be on route to Tokyo

Katie George Dunlevy

Tandem cyclist teammates Eve McCrystal, left, and Katie-George Dunlevy display their medals from the Women's B Road Race at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Photo by Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Irish paralympic cyclist, Katie-George Dunlevy is on track to defend her Olympic title this summer. In an interview with Kevin Dunford in her local paper, the Crawley Observer, the London-based athlete gives an insight into her preparations.

Dunlevy and her family missed out on their annual trip to Mountcharles, the home of her father, John, in 2020, but remains upbeat despite the pandemic.

Paralympic cyclist Katie-George Dunlevy is missing the adrenline rush of competition – but she is still driven and is aiming for gold in Tokyo this year.
The 39-year-old, who won gold and silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016, is hoping to repeat the feat in Japan, which were delayed because of the pandemic. And lockdown has not stopped Dunlevy from getting ready for the the games.
She said: “I’ve really missed the adrenaline rush and excitement of competition, and am looking forward to competing again. I am driven to show the world what myself and Eve [McCrystal] are capable of. I hope we will be able to compete in the World Cups and World Championships, which lead us to my ultimate goal which is winning medals in Tokyo.
“I follow a full training programme set by my coach.
“This is combined with visits to Eve to train, and other training camps. The determination of myself, Eve and squad plus very hard work, and of course never losing sight of the fact we are going to Tokyo to win gold.”

Katie-George Dunlevy of Ireland celebrates with her mother, Alana Dunlevy

Dunlevy had a great start to 2020 when she and pilot Eve won silver at the Track World Championships before the pandemic struck. “I flew to Ireland to train with my pilot Eve for two weeks in March and got locked in and became part of the family for five months and we trained hard. I was disappointed that all the competitions were then cancelled, but we didn’t slow down; in fact being together for so long was a great benefit to our training. I was relieved when I heard that Tokyo was postponed and not cancelled.
“There has been no change in my day-to-day ability to train on the bike. However with everything shut down because of Covid I am working on my own stretching, mobility, rehab and strength and conditioning at home.
“Also occasional virtual races have been added to my programme so personal management is very important.
“Obviously it’s been very different and I do miss the one to one, but I am quite a self contained person and I am happy doing it on my own, I do miss the massage though!”
Dunlevy, who has won gold medals around the world in cycling and rowing, has not found it hard to keep motivated during the three lockdowns we have had in Britain.

Katie-George Dunlevy of Ireland, right, and her pilot Eve McCrystal, react as they are informed that they have won gold in the Women's B Time Trial at the Pontal Cycling Road during the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

She also sees keeping up her training as a big success.
“My biggest achievement has been meeting my daily goals in training, fitness levels, recovery, nutrition (an area I have struggled with in the past) in the face of all this uncertainty which makes me feel encouraged and hopeful.
“I am determined to be the very best I can be on route to Tokyo and this is my main motivator. If I have a day when I don’t feel motivated I just think of what I need to do to get the medals.”
Huge crowds are not something Dunlevy is used to in the Para-cycling world, but she hopes that will change soon.
She said: “Sadly spectators are thin on the ground for Para-cycling competitions, however it was different in London 2012, and Rio 2016 in the Paralympics when the crowds were electrifying and it was very exciting. It will be sad if there are no spectators in Tokyo. My mum and dad come to all my competitions and I would love them to be there with me, but if they’re not able to I won’t let it stop me and I will focus on the job in hand regardless.
Another thing the Crawley-based star, who represents Ireland, hopes increases is funding.
“I don’t feel like there has ever been enough money put into para-cycling,” she said.
“I’m sure there is a lot that has been going on behind the scenes, but I don’t know what more could have been done under the circumstances, and there are plenty of races on the calendar this year but with the virus who knows if they will take place.
“What is very exciting is a new race from Brugge to Oudenaarde that has been added to the racing calendar.”

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