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Success has been a chain reaction for World No.1 Downey

 

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 UCI world governing body mens' elite points ranking after 12 months packed full of outstanding 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 10 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 Games and the family even own a bicycle shop in their County Down town. It's in their blood.

But to be World No.1? Well, it's taken even the typically modest 21-year-old by surprise.

"I'm obviously very happy to be ranked No.1 with bringing my season to a close," he said. "It's something nice to be able to say that you were once in your career ranked No.1. 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 time out back at home to have some good rest before heading away in December. Next year 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 in April, Downey has his brother's bronze medal to beat.

He may be No.1 in the world, but now he has his sights firmly fixed on becoming the undisputed No.1 Downey.

Belfast Telegraph

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