Paralympics: The Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan story

As we reported on our LIVE section on Sunday , Catherine Walsh and Fran Meehan took the silver medal in the Paracycling Individual Pursuit B final at the Velodrome on Sunday.

The Irish pairing were beaten to gold by New Zealand’s Philippa Gray and Laura Thompson

The Irish duo went out faster than they had in the heat earlier in the day , on a bigger gear, and at the 1km mark were a mere 0.2 second down. However, the swift New Zealand pair, who have been focusing on this event also, raised their game. By the 2km mark this lead extended to 1.9 seconds, and at the finish there were three seconds between Ireland and the gold medal.

Walsh said “the team had a couple of fourths, so it was hard during the week. We were able to finish off what we said we were going to do.”

Many readers, outside of their families and friends, and colleagues in the sport, will not know much about Catherine or Fran so here is a brief CV of their past sporting history.

Catherine from Swords in Dublin who is visually impaired has experienced success as a track and field athlete in five previous Paralympic Games between 1992 and 2004, winning bronze in the pentathlon at Sydney 2000.

In 2007, she changed sport to tandem cycling and made her mark quickly enough to gain selection to Beijing 2008. Catherine became Ireland’s first paracycling medal winner when powering to silver at the 2009 World Track Championships with sighted pilot Fran Meehan.

Catherine won subsequent bronze medals at both UCI World Championships in 2011 (Track and Road) and a sensational gold in the 3km Individual Pursuit at February’s World Track Championships in LA.

Sighted pilot Fran from Killurin in Offaly and her stoker Catherine Walsh have been in great form over the past two years, becoming Ireland’s most successful Tandem pairing.

Fran only took up competitive cycling in 2007, with a prior athletics background. The two-times national cyclo-cross champion has proved an ideal partner for Catherine and the pair have enjoyed considerable success since joining up.

In 2011, Fran and Catherine began their run of championship form with double bronze at the World Paracycling Championships (Track and Road), before claiming gold in the Segovia leg of the 2011 Road World Cup.

In 2012, they delivered further with a sensational gold at February’s World Track Championships in LA, backing this up with an unexpected bronze in the tandem sprint.


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