Ryan bronze ends Ireland's medal famine
Kildare-based garda Caroline Ryan copped Ireland's first medal at the World Track Championships in more than a century when she took bronze in the women's points race in Melbourne yesterday.
An amazing 116 years after Balbriggan's Harry Reynolds won the One Mile Amateur Championship of the World in Copenhagen, 32-year-old Ryan finished third behind Anastasia Chulkova of Russia and Canadian Jasmin Glaesser in the 25km race.
These three went clear shortly after midway in the 100-lap race and, along with Chinese girl Wan Yiu Wong, lapped the rest of the field.
Having also finished third in two earlier sprints, Ryan scored 24 points to finish just six points off the gold medal and one point ahead of world road race champion Giorgia Bronzini of Italy.
"It's an incredible result," said Cycling Ireland's Geoff Liffey. "It's just reward for all of the hard work Caroline has put in over the last couple of years."
The bronze medal-winning ride was all the more remarkable given that the 32-year-old didn't start cycling competitively until the end of 2008. A former international rower, Ryan tried out for Cycling Ireland's Talent Transfer Programme, having narrowly missed out on selection for the Beijing Olympics in rowing.
She quickly adapted to the bike and was soon selected by Paracycling Ireland as pilot for visually impaired rider Catherine Walsh, and the duo took a silver medal for Ireland at the World Paracycling Championships in November 2009.
The following year, Ryan became Irish national champion in the women's 3km pursuit and 10km scratch race and was also part of the promising, but short-lived, Irish women's team pursuit squad that was originally earmarked for an assault on London 2012.
Despite continually setting national records in the event, the squad was scrapped by Cycling Ireland last year after their high performance funding was cut by 40pc.
Ryan has taken a year out from her duties as a garda to concentrate on racing and, with the support of Bus Eireann, has spent the last few months training full-time.
The daughter of Willie Ryan, who represented Ireland in rowing at the 1976 and 1980 Olympic Games, she is due to ride the individual pursuit on Sunday.