Irish cyclist Shannon McCurley took home the silver in the European Track Championships on the 16th of October, narrowly losing out to GB’s Emily Nelson in the women’s scratch event in Apeldoorn, Holland. Portugal’s Maria Martins rounded out the podium places in what was a thrilling race on the opening day of the championships.
A Dramatic Ending
The 10km 40 lap race was a dramatic affair as Nelson sprung out to an early lead but appeared to have done too much early on as she was chased down by McCurley and Martins as the bell sounded for the final lap. Despite this, McCurley’s spirited fightback came up just short but the 27-year-old was delighted with the result having been at the back with seven laps to go. McCurley spoke after the race:
“I think I was hopeful that it was all going to go up and it did. I think with about three laps to go I spotted Emily shoot down the bottom, and I knew she had good legs, she was coming into this strong, and that was the wheel I wanted to be on.
McCurley was born in Melbourne, Australia to Irish parents and identifies strongly as Irish despite being based in Australia. Interestingly, McCurley started her career as a runner but switched to cycling after suffering from injuries. She has enjoyed great success in her career so far being Ireland’s first female track cyclist to compete at the Olympic Games when she competed in Rio in 2016. She also won the bronze in the scratch event at the u23 European Championships and she now firmly has her eyes set on Tokyo 2020.
The Irish Team
A total of 14 Irish cyclists competed at Apeldoorn with a mix of experienced riders and a few youngsters, including the team of Mia Griffin, Kelly Murphy, Alice Sharpe and Orla Walsh who just missed out on qualifying for the knockout phase of the time pursuit finishing 9th with the top 8 progressing. Murphy also came agonizingly close to a medal in the Women’s Individual Pursuit finishing 4th behind GB’s Katie Archibald, despite setting a new Irish record of 3.30.687 during qualification and shaving 9 seconds off her personal best. The team used a bike delivery service for the event which allowed them to easily transport their bikes and parts to the track in Holland.
McCurley’s success is an excellent contribution to what has already been a good year for Irish cycling with Mark Downey and Lydia Boylan claiming bronze and silver respectively at this year’s track world championships.
Overall, the team enjoy a good weekend in Holland where they performed well, had a chance to bond and put their abilities to the test against the best in Europe. They will now look ahead to Tokyo 2020 where they look to go one step further and prove their abilities on the biggest stage of all.