Road to Tokyo – September 2018

“I was on such a high…!”

Hello everyone, I’m delighted to post up my latest blog, I hope you like it!

Not long after arriving home from The Road World Championships I was back into my training routine. Usually I would have a break immediately after the championships but this year they were a month earlier than usual. This resulted in an extra few weeks on the bike before my season ends. Although there is no race coming up it’s so very important that I maintain my fitness and strength; After all it’s not long before we all start to focus on next years racing and Tokyo 2020.

I was on such a high after we came back from Italy as World Champions. The buzz definitely helps drive me to continue my training. However, after a few days I became exhausted and weak, It’s important that I listen to my body and this was a sure sign that I needed a break. The physical and mental effort required to compete professionally has huge effects on the body. Rest is as important as training. I first learnt this when I started competitive rowing over ten years ago so I have planned a break from the saddle in the middle of September.

Finishing my season earlier than usual certainly had its advantages. I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest to the 23rd Crawley Irish Festival at the Hawth Theatre, and for the first time in years I was actually able to attend. It was a fantastic family day out with music, dance, stalls and a children’s area with crafts and stories. The British summer let us down and it rained cats and dogs all day, but the whole Festival was moved into the Hawth so everyone had a fantastic time.

Me, Mary Byrne who is a 2010 X factor semi-finalist and my sister Rebecca at the Crawley Irish festival.

 During the opening ceremony I was presented with the “Irish Crawley Person of the Year Award”. This came as a complete surprise and I was very proud to receive the award from John and Noreen Nolan from the organising committee. The trophy read: “Presented to Katie-George Dunlevy our true Olympian and World Champion. You have done Crawley and Ireland proud”

Below is a link to the festival highlights filmed by Martin and Annette Logan at Irish in The UK TV. You’ll spot me nine minutes in!


Neil Monday from Susy Radio interviewing myself and the Mayor of Crawley for their radio show

 The first week of September, and four weeks after the World Championships I flew to Ireland to attend a para-cycling camp at The Institute of Sport in Dublin. Over four days I underwent various tests. These are held in the gym, on the bike and with the physiotherapist. We also take part in valuable workshops and it gives us a chance to arrange meetings with the coaches and support staff. This is crucial as we get the opportunity to make important plans and focus on the season ahead.

Undertaking a ramp fitness test at the Institute of sport. My coach team and support team can gain a lot of information from the test which takes around 30minutes. It is a hurt locker and by the end you are collapsed over the bike after giving your all.

After the camp I took full advantage of being in Ireland. My family and I headed to Donegal to spend some time with the community of Mountcharles, my father’s birthplace, and Glencolmchille, the birthplace of my Granny Cassie. We had the pleasure of staying at The Abbey Hotel in Donegal Town, if you ever visit I recommend this hotel. we were very well looked after. 

On the Sunday I presented a framed Rainbow jersey to Donegal Bay Cycling Club in memory of Liam Hyland. Liam, a friend of my fathers, was a valuable member of the club and a great promoter of cycling in his newspaper ‘The Donegal Times’. The club members and the Hyland family arrived for the presentation at the cycling club base in Christie Dunlevy’s Garage before we all headed to a memorial mass and then on to a memorial breakfast at The Central Hotel in Donegal town. It was a lovely day for the family and cyclists, and really was a wonderful way to celebrate Liam’s life.

Presenting the framed Rainbow jersey to the Hyland family and Donegal Bay Cycling Club outside Christie Dunlevy’s garage.

It came as a complete shock to be made an honorary member of the cycling club and I was presented with a beautiful trophy by Ted and Seanna McCaffrey. The inscription reads: “Donegal Bay Cycling Club Honorary Member Katie-George Dunlevy. The club is very proud of your determination to succeed and of everything you have achieved”. The framed jersey is currently displayed in the window of ‘Magee of Donegal’, who very kindly gave me one of their beautiful tweed jackets during my visit. 

Standing wearing my tweed jacket with James Temple in Magee’s in Donegal town where the rainbow jersey is displayed in the window.

On my last day I was invited to visit Donegal Vocational School. I spoke to 100 students in the transition year 15/16 years old, about aspirations, determination and never giving up. I told my story and answered questions. I truly believe that inspiring just one child with my story is as valuable as the achievements themselves. 

Talking to the students at the Donegal Vocational school.

Before I sign off I would like to write about Germany’s double Olympic and World Track Sprint Cycling ChampionKristina Vogel. This week it has been announced she has been left paralysed following spinal injuries sustained in a crash during training, She is an incredible and determined athlete and my thoughts are with her. Kristina is very strong emotionally and physically and even though it was a truly dreadful accident I’m sure she will be back before too long and will soon be finding new ways to challenge herself. For me this was yet another example of how quickly life can change and a reminder of how dangerous cycling can be.

I’ve now got a few weeks off and I’m heading to the sun for some much needed relaxation. Leaving the bike behind will give me a chance to really unwind before getting back into training for the exciting year ahead.  

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