Irish duo Eve McCrystal and Katie-George Dunlevy have landed a second gold medal at the Paralympic games after beating their rivals in the B road race.
McCrystal and Dunlevy beat Sweden’s Louise Jannering and Anna Svaerdstroem and the British pair of Sophie Unwin and Jenny Holl to take home gold at the Fuji International Speedway.
It had already been a very successful games for the Irish pair, with McCrystal and Dunlevy claiming gold in the B time trial and silver in the B individual pursuit.
Previously, they won gold in the B time trial at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Speaking to RTÉ after the race, Dunlevy spoke of the dramatic finale that yielded a second gold of the games.
"The road race is my favourite and I've always wanted to win that at the Paralympics," Dunlevy said.
"In London I was fifth in the road race, and then I got silver in Rio. To win it in Tokyo is a dream come true.
"It was a really challenging race. The Swedish were really technically very good and on the downhills we were losing ground to them. If they went ahead of us, we had to use a lot of effort to get it back.
"It was a lot of on-off efforts and it was really draining as the laps went on.
"There was a chance there and we just had to take it. That was to attack really on that last climb coming in. We did, and we got a gap, and I just can't believe it held off to the line.
"I was fading off quickly though!"
Eve McCrystal said she never thought she would enjoy this much success ‘in her wildest dreams.
"I can't believe it because as a pilot I found that course so stressful in the rain.
"As Katie said we were losing ground on the descent. The climb I found tough because of the on-off during the race.
"I just said to Katie with about 2km to that we're going to have to kick the last little drag up. Because the British bike are the current world champions. I didn't want to take them to the line so we had to chance it.
"We chanced it, we got a gap, and we just went for it and I cannot believe we did that.
"I didn't really feel the rain too much. I was just concentrating on staying upright and the Swedish girls really put it to us on the corners.
"Double Paralympic champions - oh my God almighty - never in my wildest dreams!"
Meanwhile, there was frustration for the men’s tandem duo on the road this morning as they were unable to finish the men’s tandem road race at the Fuji International Speedway due to the torrential rain and difficult track condition. The pair withdrew shortly after the beginning of the race. Despite the disappointment both men were very pleased with their overall performance and experience at the Games;
Martin Gordon said “It’s been an incredible experience from start to finish, the whole Summer culminating in, when it came down to it, when it mattered we delivered on the track and, in and out, day in day out, it’s just been a wonderful experience.”
Pilot Eamonn Byrne said “You think about it so long, this is not our first major competition, we’ve been to four world’s since 2017 and oftentimes we haven’t performed but we absolutely nailed it this time and at the right time, it’s a great feeling like, I don’t have a single ‘what-if’ or niggle walking away from it and I think that’s not often you can say that as an athlete. So, really happy.”
Elsewhere, Pat O’Leary’s bid to make the second Paralympic canoeing final of his career is still on hold but he finished today on a high after winning the KL3 ‘B Final’ in what he deemed his best performance of the year so far. The Cork paddler, who finished sixth in Rio 2016, needed to make the top three today (Fri) to go through to the KL3 kayak final and missed out by just one place, despite his fastest time of the year.
He finished fourth in a season-best time of 42:203 behind Great Britain’s Rio silver medallist Tom Kierey (41:647) in a semi-final won by Australia’s Dylan Littlehales in a blistering 40:223. But the 48-year-old NUI Galway chemistry lecturer went on to win the B final in what he felt was his best executed race this season, giving him a great boost ahead of his VL3 semi-final tomorrow/ (Saturday, 2:26am Irish time). His upcoming VL3 semi-final includes the Rio KL3 bronze medallist Caio Ribeiro de Carvalho from Brazil but Pat is the reigning European in this brand new event.
“The semi-final was tough. To be fourth when just three went through was difficult but I knew going in I’d have to give everything and still need to be a bit lucky the way the draw had gone. It was probably the tougher of the two semi-finals.
“That was probably the fastest time I’ve done this year and I was happy that I gave it all I had. Then, even though the time in the B final was .2 of a second slower, that was the best race I’d done this year and I’m very happy with that.”
“There’s five in my VL3 semi, three to go through and you could probably cover us with a coin going over the line. It would be fabulous to make a final here but what’s important is that what I get out of the race what I want to.
“I know what I’m capable of. I know what it feels like to do a really good run. If I do that and someone’s ahead of me that’s fine. If I do that and people aren’t ahead of me that’ll be even better.”