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Dromore cyclist Mark Downey is the new world number one but he's not ready to rest

The latest in a line of family sporting stars, he has new goals to set his sights on

By Gareth Hanna

It's not every day Northern Ireland has a sports star at the very top of the world standings, but for one Dromore family, sporting success is simply a matter of course.

Cyclist Mark Downey has reached top spot in the world rankings of the points race after 12 months packed full of out-standing results.

It's a position that has been a long time in the making, but the signs have always been there. A year ago, Downey took his first World Cup gold medal and by March had followed it up with another points gold and top place in the Madison, racing alongside Irish team-mate Felix English.

A disappointing 10th place finish in April's Track Cycling World Championships did little to hold the Banbridge CC man back. Proving he can transfer his skills to the road, Downey claimed a perhaps unexpected top ten in the U23 Road Race at September's World Championships in Bergen, Norway.

Even before all that, cyclists around Dromore had a fair idea they had a star on their hands. It's been on the cards since birth, given Mark boasts the genes of his 1984 Olympic cyclist dad Seamus. His brother Sean claimed a bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth and the family even own a bicycle shop in their County Down town. It's in the blood.

But to be world number one? Well it's taken even the typically modest 21-year-old by surprise.

"I'm obviously very happy to be ranked number one with bringing my season to a close," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "It's something nice to be able to say that you were once in your career ranked number one. After a really good 12 months of results it had put me in third place but after my recent solid performances it elevated me into the first place.

"Next up for me is three weeks of timeout back at home to have some good rest before heading away in December. 2018 will be a big year so there isn't a lot of time for holiday."

He can say that again - with the Commonwealth Games fast-approaching April, Mark has his brother's bronze medal to beat.

He may be number on in the world, now he has his sights firmly fixed on becoming the undisputed number one Downey.

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