NI cycling ace Downey will learn from past in his bid to hit the big time
Dromore cycling star Mark Downey is hoping his wait to be crowned world champion will come to an end this evening.
The 21-year-old is racing for Team Ireland in the points race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Apeldoorn, Netherlands.
He has already won three World Cup gold medals but only the winner of the World Championships is entitled to call themselves a world champion.
Hopes had been high that Downey could take that step last year in Hong Kong but he had to settle for a disappointing 10th.
Now he's hoping for better this time around.
"I got a trial to see what it was like last year, with the whole experience," he said. "Maybe too much pressure got to me and it affected my performance. I feel like I'm in the same shape I was in last year so I'm hoping I can put in a better performance.
"I have my sights on getting on the podium."
Downey will also be in action in Sunday's Madison.
Yesterday, Beragh's Marc Potts finished 13th in the scratch race.
Belfast cyclist Robyn Stewart also made her World Championships debut, becoming the first woman to represent Ireland in the sprint race. She finished 24th and told the Belfast Telegraph she's hoping that can prove valuable experience in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
"I'm delighted to be Ireland's first female sprinter to compete at this level," she said. "I have a lot to learn but I'm taking it all in. I'm 24th in the world, it's a good start. I've come a long way in three years. This has made me hungry to get better, train harder and get faster. This is a stepping stone to the Commonwealth Games next month and a step towards my Olympic dream of competing at Toyko 2020."
Dublin-born Lydia Boylan will race in today's Omnium and tomorrow's Madison.
Downey, Potts and Stewart will all represent Northern Ireland at next month's Commonwealths.