Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth Games: Raucous Glasgow crowd can inspire me, says cyclist Martyn Irvine

By Steven Beacom

From proud flagbearer for Northern Ireland at the opening ceremony, it's back to the day job for World Champion cyclist Martyn Irvine as he prepares to make his 2014 Commonwealth Games bow tomorrow.

Given his pedigree on the track, it's no surprise that Irvine is considered one of Northern Ireland's brightest medal hopes in Glasgow, but the Newtownards man suggests he'll have to improve on recent performances to strike gold, silver or bronze.

The 29-year-old has had an indifferent season on the road and goes as far to say that lately his confidence and form have been 'pretty average'.

With Irvine, though, there is always a feeling that he will deliver on the big night just as he did in Minsk in 2013 when he won a World Championship gold in the Scratch race and silver in the Individual Pursuit.

Earlier this year he proved to be the man for the big occasion again winning silver in the Scratch race at the World Championship Track event in Colombia.

He's also a bronze medallist from the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi in the Team Pursuit, so his many supporters will be keeping the faith.

In Glasgow, Irvine has opted to race in the 40 km Points race tomorrow and the 20km Scratch race on Sunday plus a Road Race to come next week.

The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, close to Parkhead, is the venue for the bikes to buzz around the track at breakneck speed.

Scotland is a place where Irvine has shone before, picking up two silver medals when the UCI Track World Cup was held here in 2012.

"My confidence and form are pretty average but I do have a good track record in Scotland so hopefully when the races come around I will do well," says Irvine.

"It has been an up and down season and if I could leave Glasgow having been on the podium that would be fantastic. I like the track and I'm sure there will be a great atmosphere inside the arena."

That was certainly the case on Wednesday night as Irvine led his compatriots into Celtic's stadium to huge cheers.

Irvine relished the occasion and is enjoying being part of the Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games for a second time.

"It feels a little more comfortable being in the team second time around. You know a few more faces and within the cycling set up the craic and morale is good," says Irvine.

Based in Denver, Colorado and out on the road throughout the year competing for his American based team UnitedHealthcare, Irvine does not often get the chance to race in the UK.

He will have plenty of support in the Velodrome.

Irvine added: "This is as close as we can get to having a home Games and already the support the Northern Ireland Team have received has been great and of course we have friends and families here watching us compete. When you are getting that sort of backing it can drive you on."

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