Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Martyn Irvine's long and winding road to the summit

Martyn Irvine – Champion of the world! Just how cool does that sound.

Not bad for a bloke who told me in an interview last year that he was a couch potato when he was a kid and did all he could to get out of PE at Movilla High School in Newtownards.

Martyn didn't take up cycling until he was 18. Nine years on he's become a Northern Ireland sporting great.

Can't wait for the movie!

Yesterday it was confirmed that the Giro d'Italia, one of the biggest events in world cycling, was coming to Northern Ireland.

It's a huge story, but today even that must play second fiddle to the breathtaking performances of the brilliant Irvine.

Winning a silver in the Individual Pursuit event at the World Track Championships in Minsk last night was a magnificent effort.

We'd have settled for that.

Joyously though there was more to come. Much more.

Less than an hour after taking silver, Martyn followed it up by claiming gold in the Scratch race.

Remarkable. Put this down as one of the finest sporting feats ever accomplished by an Ulsterman.

And it was the staggering way he did it that made his victory even more heroic.

Despite being almost out on his feet after his earlier exertions, with 10 out of the 60 laps to go in the Scratch event, he broke from the bunch and basically just went for it sprinting away with every last drop of energy he had.

No guts, no glory.

The glory came as somehow he held off a late charge from Austrian rider Andreas Mueller.

Martyn couldn't quite believe that he had done it.

Recently he's been doing more work with his new American team United Healthcare on the road, but yesterday he got back on track – and how!

Earlier this week in this newspaper the Newtownards man revealed that he questioned his future in the sport after having what he saw as a disappointing London Olympics.

There are no questions now.

On his first visit to Minsk, 27-year-old Martyn supplied all the answers. To use his own words, you're no "donkey" mate, you are now officially world class.

Congratulations to Northern Ireland's latest sporting sensation, Martyn Irvine, champion of the world.

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