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Image / Agenda / Breaking Stories

‘I trust in Eve because I can’t see a thing on the back of the bike’: Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal’s amazing journey to Paralympic gold


by Sarah Finnan
31st Aug 2021

@katiegdunlevy / Instagram

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Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal have secured their second medal win of the Paralympic Games so far – this time clinching the gold.

It’s been a superb Paralympic run for Team Ireland athletes so far this year who already have several medal wins as tokens of their hard work.

Swimmer Ellen Keane secured the nation’s first gold medal of the Games earlier last week as she swam her way to victory in the SB8 100m breaststroke final on Thursday morning. Putting in the performance of a lifetime, she breezed through her heat, finishing the final with a new personal best of 1:19.93 – two seconds quicker than her previous time. 

Nicole Turner won Ireland’s second medal in the pool, claiming silver in the S5 50m butterfly final while Jason Smyth nabbed his sixth Paralympic gold medal after edging the win in the T13 100m final on Sunday morning. 

It’s also been a particularly fruitful Games for Irish cyclists this year with Portlaoise native Gary O’Reilly clinching the bronze in the men’s H5 time trial and Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal securing not one, but two medal wins over in Tokyo 2020 so far… and they don’t plan on stopping there either, with the duo confirming hopes to make it three in a row before the competition is out. 

Delivering Team Ireland’s first para-cycling medal over the weekend, the duo took the silver in their qualifying round for the women’s B 3000m individual pursuit – also setting a new world record of 3:19:946 in the process. Keeping the momentum going right up until this morning, the pair are still running on adrenaline from another win this morning… this time, taking the gold in the women’s B time trial with a time of 47:32.07. 

Already with quite a full trophy case between them, Dunlevy and McCrystal may make it look like a piece of cake, but it’s been anything but easy and the road to Tokyo was long and winding for the talented twosome. Required to commit to quite a rigorous training programme, managing to balance everything is no mean feat. “It’s six days a week, it is hard work,” Eve previously told The Irish Times

“Katie is at home, she can’t get out on the road, I’m at home with the kids. There are constantly sacrifices that we make. It looks easy to just come here and do that performance, but there has been so much hard work behind the scenes for the two of us. We owe so much to so many people and this medal is for them as much as it is for us,” she said of their first win on Saturday. 

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic also posed a huge threat to their Paralympic hopes and aside from delaying the competition until this year, stringent travel restrictions meant that it was difficult for the tandem partners to train together. Based near Gatwick Airport in England, Eve ended up moving in with Katie for almost five months so they could still train during lockdown. 

Later spending a large part of this past April in Dublin to allow for further Paralympic prep, a lack of indoor facilities meant that they had to go to Mallorca to make use of an indoor velodrome there. That system worked out well for them but Eve is still hoping that their recent success “might give the government a kick” to get the long-promised velodrome built in Abbotstown – which will be instrumental in encouraging other athletes to pursue the sport. 

Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when she was just 11-years-old, Katie’s vision impairment means that she relies heavily on her tandem partner when in competition, but it’s a relationship that works. “The relationship we have works because of the time we have together and it is about the respect we have for each other. We know what to say to each other, it is just that trust,” she noted. “I trust in Eve, because I can’t see a thing on the back of the bike there. It is just because of the respect and pride for each other because we know what we put into it.”

The proud owners of two out of three medals so far, their win brings Ireland’s total medal count to six at the Paralympic Games so far (three gold, two silver, one bronze). Friday will be the next big test for Dunlevy and McCrystal who will compete in the B road race at 5am Irish time.

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