Cycling: Commonwealth gold is in Connor McConvey’s sights
Cyclist Connor McConvey is no stranger to success, having one Irish Championship title to his name already.
It was therefore no surprise when he discovered he would be one of the cyclists representing Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, which begin on October 3 in Delhi.
Currently training in Belgium, McConvey said: “I half-assumed I would be going because of where I’m currently racing, but when I got the nod to say I was going, it was still a big relief.”
Connor was born in Belfast and is now part of the well respected Sean Kelly Team.
It’s something he believes has helped his development in the sport.
“The team is one of the best in the world. I have big opportunities here and great chances to race. It’s a very good set-up and we’re looked after really well,” says the 22-year-old who won the Irish MTB Championship last year.
“Living in Belgium means it’s in close proximity to lots of the main races and to be able to compete in them is excellent.”
McConvey has gone from strength to strength in his sport, having been first noticed when he competed in international mountain biking.
The decision for him to switch to an international road cyclist is one he does not regret.
He says: “I made the transition from mountain biking last year. I adapted quicker than I, or anyone else, anticipated.
“The first few months were a learning curve certainly, but coming into a team at such a high level was invaluable and now I’m in the best position possible to succeed.”
Confident about his team’s chances at the Commonwealth Games, Connor does not hold back about their aspirations.
“We have gold in mind. We work as a team and ride for each other. As a team there’s always pressure — everything you do is pressure, but it’s how you deflect that and use it for motivation to get the best possible result. If we do well, we’ll come home with a medal,” he said.
He still has another 20 days of racing to complete before the Games begin, including races in Belgium, and in Australia in September. With these to prepare for, he admitted training is not always easy.
“It’s difficult at the moment as you have all these races going on, so any days in between tend to be recovery days.
“As I’m racing at the moment I’m training two to three hours maximum,” he said. “When I’m not racing on a good training day you would be up at seven in the morning which can be hard and there would usually be a spinning session and four to five hours of training.
“It’s good because each session takes on a different intensity so I’m always challenged. When I get home I’m ready to recover from the day and sleep,” he laughed.
With the Games only 43 days away, it may be a slight concern for Connor who will not have much chance to rest before he begins his campaign.
“I had a long season break due to illness earlier in the year, but since coming back I’ve had great results,” he revealed.
“I’ve been going since February and I will finish in October in Delhi, so I’ll be concentrating fully on the Games and doing the best I can.”
As for his future plans, he continued: “The opportunity to move to another team has given me a great platform in order to strive for the 2012 Olympics. I’d also love to appear competitively in the Tour de France soon.”
The drive Connor has to succeed and compete alongside some of the best cyclists in the world does not faze him. Rather, he focuses on the spectators who spur him on.
“I get a massive buzz from any place I go to. I’ve only been racing on the roads for six months, but you can have three thousand people, maybe more, watching you and it’s great,” he said.
“That’s what I like about riding and to help my team achieve good results is where I want to be.”
Away from cycling, Connor revealed that he loves watching all sports.
“I’m a big sporting freak, I always have been,” he confessed.
“When I was 16, I was competitive in five or six sports. When the time came for me to prioritise, I chose cycling and haven’t looked back.”
And as for relaxing, Connor jokes: “When I get time to relax!
“I tend to go to a coffee shop and just chill for a while, or I’ll go for a walk through the town.
“I do like to sit down and read a novel for a couple of hours though.”
In the future many will be reading about him.
Connor McConvey. Look out for the name at the Commonwealth Games and maybe even at the London Olympics.