European Games update: Ryan Mullen just outside the medals in Cycling
At the European Games in Minsk, Ryan Mullen came agonisingly close to a medal in the Men's Cycling Road Race, finishing fourth on a busy day for Team Ireland athletes.
Ireland fielded athletes in archery, badminton, boxing, canoeing and cycling so far today. This evening will see the athletics team and boxers compete again, as well as Jenny Egan in the semis of the Women's K1 500.
Sixty-three Irish athletes are competing in nine sports at the European Games from the 21-30 June.
Team Ireland had two strong finishes in the Men’s Time Trial at the European Games today, with Ryan Mullen and Michael O’Loughlin finishing fourth and sixth respectively on the 28.6km technical circuit through Minsk City.
Mullen started the race as one of the top seeds, and came within one second of taking bronze, in a time of 33:41:43. Belarussian Vasil Kiryienka took gold, Oliveira Nelson of Portugal took silver, and Czech rider Jan Barta won bronze.
Speaking after the race, Mullen described the course as tricky: "On paper it looked like a really straightforward course, but it turned out to be one of those courses that you have to keep attacking.
"There was a lot of recovery in corners which brought down your average a bit, so you were getting more recovery than you realised and had to constantly ride over pace. It turned out to be a really hard effort, and I feel like I slightly misjudged it. I went over paced in the first lap, and then I paid for it in the last ten minutes of the race."
Carrick-on-Suir's Michael O’Loughlin started the race against the clock in the first wave, finishing with a time of 34:32:69. His time put him straight into third place, a position he held until the closing stages when he dropped to an eventual sixth place.
Still racing in the U23 category, O'Loughlin was pleased with his performance: "It feels good, I’m really happy with sixth. I wanted a top ten, and in that I thought I'd be ninth or tenth, but to finish sixth and close enough with the top five, I'm pretty overwhelmed with that. To have five guys who are on the world tour ahead of me, I’m happy with that."
"I'll take it on the chin," said Belfast boxer James McGivern this afternoon after he saw his Minsk 2019 campaign come to an end thanks to a unanimous decision loss at the hands of Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov.
This bout was always going to be a tough one for McGivern, facing the 2017 European Champion and World bronze medallist who asserted himself from the off, dictating the early pace of the match and hitting some hard blows.
McGivern worked hard throughout the rounds, but Bachkov simply had too much in the tank, delivering some decisive body blows and controlling the pace of the bout to win out by a unanimous decision in the end.
"I'm tired - that was relentless," McGivern admitted. "It was hard to get my game plan going but he’s European champion and this is my first senior elite tournament, so it’s a learning experience, I’ll take it on the chin and I’ll go back and learn. I’m just going to go away now, work at it and make it perfect."
Later on this evening, Aoife O'Rourke will box her first bout of the Games, while Regan Buckley and Michael Nevin are boxing two big quarter-final bouts in a bid to move into the next round, where they would be guaranteed a minimum of a bronze medal.
Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg)
James McGivern (IRL) loses by unanimous decision: 30-27, 30-26, 30-27, 30-27, 30-25.
Jenny Egan and Ronan Foley kicked off their campaign in canoeing this morning, with Egan competing in the Women's K1 500 where she qualified through to the semi-finals, later today. In the Men’s K1 1000 Foley qualified through to the semis where he produced a PB with a time of 3:37:385.
Foley was the European Junior Champion and World Silver Medallist in the marathon event, and the European Games is providing valuable experience for him in his first year in the senior ranks.
Speaking after his race Foley said: "I'm really happy with how it went. I came away with a PB of 3:37. I have the 5k in two days time, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how I can go, and how I can develop myself in both distances in the future years to come."
Ireland's Mixed Doubles Team of Chloe and Sam Magee and Men’s Singles player Nhat Nguyen will have must win clashes in their final group games after two tight loses today.
After a fantastic win yesterday evening the Magees came out fighting this morning against the French pair and group favourites Delphine Delrue and Thom Gocquel. Team Ireland took the first set 22-20 but France came back in set two winning 19-21 to bring the match in to a third set. The French pair showed their grit to take the set and match 16-21.
Speaking afterwards, Chloe commented: "Obviously we're a bit disappointed, we had a good chance to finish out that game but we just didn't take it, but it was important to get one set and we got that first one today so it was really good that we could do that and it puts us in a good position to go through, but we've got a big match Thursday as well, we have to beat Belarus and you can’t underestimate anyone in this tournament."
The Magees have a rest day tomorrow before taking on the home team on Thursday where a win should see them through to the quarter final stages.
19-year-old Nhat Nguyen, the youngest badminton competitor in Minsk, came up against an experienced Pablo Alves of Spain on his second group match today. Nguyen was impressive in the opening set, taking the win 21-19. The 2015 European Games Champion, however, was not giving up, Alves won the second 20-22 and closed out the third set 13-21 to take the match.
"It started off well but then I kind of lost focus and he took full advantage of that. In the third set I was a bit patchy so I either went for it too much or not enough, so I didn’t find the right balance and then it was three or four easy mistakes from me that made the difference in him leading," he said.
Nguyen faces the group bottom seed Luka Raber of Austria tomorrow where a win will see him into the last 16.
Also, in action today, the Men’s Doubles team of Joshua Magee and Paul Reynolds lost their second group game to France’s Ronan Labara and Tom Gicquel 10-21, 8-21. Magee and Reynolds will have a final group game against Estonia tomorrow.
Maeve Reidy was competing in the Women's Recurve Individual event, where she beat Ukrainian Lidiia Sichenikova in the Elimination Rounds 1/32 with 6(9) – 6(8) in the shoot off.
Speaking afterwards the Dubliner was happy with her performance: "It felt good, I felt very nervous, but did what we needed to do.”
She advanced to the 1/16 Elimination Round where she was beaten on the last arrow by Rio Olympic Silver Medallist Inna Stepanova from Russia 0-6. "I could have gone better, I am happy with how I shot, it was a very tough match, and a very tough opponent," she said.
The qualifying rounds were held in a grass pitch, with the finals taking place on tarmac, which lent itself to a different atmosphere and terrain.
"It was very different in the finals field. It was an incredible experience getting to shoot there. We had a couple of days off, where we visited the finals field and got to watch a few matches there and got to see the atmosphere so I wouldn’t be put off. It’s distracting with all the televisions and crowds, but it was very enjoyable," she added.
DAY FIVE SCHEDULE (IRISH TIME):
*Note the schedule may be subject to change *
15:40 Athletics - Ireland Quarter Final Match 2
16:45 Boxing – Aoife O’Rourke (IRL) Vs Viktoryia Kebikava (BLR) Women’s Middle -75kg
16:30 Boxing – Regan Buckley (IRL) Vs Martin Molina Salvador (ESP) Men’s Light Fly -49kg
17:45 Boxing – Michael Nevin (IRL) Vs Serhat Guler (TUR) Men’s Middle -75kg
17:50 Badminton – Rachael Darragh (IRL) Vs Yvonne Li (GER) Women’s Singles