Katie George Dunlevy was ‘delighted’ to claim a bronze medal in the Women’s B 3km Individual Pursuit at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands last month.
The popular second generation cyclist worked brilliantly alongside pilot Eve McCrystal to secure third place by .101 second ahead of Great Britain – only a matter of weeks after suffering a serious ankle injury.
“I was delighted because in a way it was unexpected- in the middle of January I sprained one of my ankles really badly,” Dunlevy told The Irish Post. “I was on crutches and unable to train for several weeks, but the only good thing was that I knew there was a good way to go before the competition.
“It meant I had to stay very balanced to ensure I made a good recovery. The worst thing for a sportsperson is being injured, but you have to deal with it as best as you can.
“I was just getting into good form in January. So it was very hard to sit down, I found that tough, but once the acute pain went in my ankle I was able to start my rehab slowly.
“Initially just getting back walking was my challenge and then when the inflammation went down I was able to start some light training.”
Dunlevy paid tribute to Dundalk colleague Eve McCrystal with whom she has forged a very successful partnership. “You need to be 100%, but my drive and focus was always there even when I was injured. In a way my injury problem even gave Eve extra motivation to be ready. She trained very hard while I was basically doing everything I was told to do.
“We went on some training camps and I was worried because I found it frustrating not hitting the times I would like to have reached.
“I was working on getting my fitness back so mentally it was really hard when we weren’t reaching the targets we wanted, but I kept going.
“I hoped that it would turn out okay and thankfully it did. For us to win by such a short space of time was brilliant. I cannot believe we did it.
“We had no idea how close it was until near the end. With about three laps to go we sort of realised, but by then you are in such a world of pain anyways we just kept at it.”
With the road season commencing next month Dunlevy is already preparing for a demanding summer, but the long term focus is very much centred on Rio 2016.
“As I had a lot of time off with the injury I didn’t want to take too much off again. I only had a few days off after the Worlds.
“The road season starts soon so I’m still working on my rehab doing strength and conditioning. In the next few weeks I will start working on race fitness. We will start racing soon in Belgium again. That will be nice.
“I’m naturally competitive, I love cycling especially road racing. Eve is great and we both love the thrill and excitement.
“I enjoy the feeling of being on a bike competing. Medals is what we aiming for now in the competitions we are in. At the end of 2011 I started and then I had the goal of wanting to win a medal at a World Championships.
“Now everything is being geared towards Rio. At least my injury happened this year because it would have been extremely tough next year. I need to be fully right for then. Everything between now and then will be seen by us as a stepping stone.”