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Moving to US can make Martyn's dream a reality


High living: Martyn Irvine has moved to the altitude of Denver to ensure he is fully prepared for the Olympics in Rio

High living: Martyn Irvine has moved to the altitude of Denver to ensure he is fully prepared for the Olympics in Rio

High living: Martyn Irvine has moved to the altitude of Denver to ensure he is fully prepared for the Olympics in Rio

After seeing their team thrashed in the Superbowl almost a fortnight ago the people of Denver are still feeling a little low.

Even 12 days on they continue to ask what happened to star quarterback Peyton Manning and his supposedly sensational offence and how on earth the Seattle Seahawks could humiliate them 43-8 in the biggest game of the season.

Home to the Broncos, Denver is now also home to Northern Ireland's World champion cyclist Martyn Irvine and his wife Grace.

They were not caught up in the American football team's pain like many others in the city.

Instead they are becoming accustomed to a new life and Martyn has his own sporting endeavours to concentrate on including the upcoming World Track Championships, the Commonwealth Games in the summer and riding for his UnitedHealthcare road racing team throughout the year.

Also on his mind, as we talk, is the Olympics in 2016.

The Games may be over two years away, but Irvine admits that the main reason for upping sticks and moving to Denver several weeks ago was down to his desire to leave Rio with a medal around his neck.

At London 2012, much focus was placed on the despair of Ulster's finest female rider Wendy Houvenaghel, who was not given a chance by Team GB to race for gold.

But the 28-year-old from Newtownards would say himself that he too endured a disappointing time, failing in his opinion to do himself justice on the track when riding for Ireland.

You get the feeling that won't happen again, hence the reason why he is doing everything he can to be primed and prepared for the greatest show on earth in Brazil.

"I have trained in this part of the world before and with the altitude it is great for performance, so when the opportunity came this time we thought why not give it a go," says Martyn, speaking from his apartment in Denver and referring to the life-changing decision made by him and his wife.

"Grace got a secondment here through work so everything worked out really well. We have an apartment in Denver and we'll be here for the next few years. After that we'll see what happens.

"It should be good for Rio being on this side of the globe. When I'm travelling out to Brazil I won't have jet lag and any problems with travel, so it's all about looking at the big picture.

"Rio is my driving force for moving out here. If I could win an Olympic medal that would cap my career."

What a career it has turned out to be. Not considering himself sporty at all, he almost accidentally fell into cyclying as a teenager and since then has savoured the ride of his life.

He's a World champion now, has won European medals and this year aims to improve on the bronze medal he claimed as part of the Northern Ireland team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

"The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow is something I really want to be involved in," he says.

"With me being away a lot it can be difficult. I know they have a training camp in February but with the World Championships on in the same month in Colombia I'm not sure I'll be able to go.

"Then after the World Championships I'll be on the road, racing with my team, which I'm looking forward to."

Unfortunately, Martyn's American based UnitedHealthcare team won't be riding in the Giro d'Italia, which starts in Belfast later this year.

They were not selected as a wild card for the world famous race.

It seems a shame that Northern Ireland's cycling World champion won't be competing in the biggest cycling event to come to his home country.

Disapppointed initially when he heard the news, Martyn has moved on. He has other fish to fry and hopefully more success to enjoy while revelling in his new home in Colorado.

From Co Down to Denver, Northern Ireland's greatest male cyclist has come a long way.

In my mind he hasn't changed from the down to earth bloke I first interviewed a few years ago, but I wonder if he feels all the success has altered him in any shape or form.

He replies: "I don't feel any different, I don't feel fitter or anything like that and I certainly don't feel any richer for it. I'm just doing what I do, working hard and hoping to come up with results.

"Mentally I guess I feel good because of what I've achieved. It justifies why you are putting all the work in and doing all the training, but overall I think I'm still the same guy."

Belfast Telegraph