Belfast Telegraph

O'Brien on the right track for more gold

By Steven Beacom

Newry man Glyn O'Brien has been there and done it before in the World Police and Fire Games – and he has the medals to prove it.

Coming home from Vancouver four years ago, O'Brien had two chunks of gold in his kit bag having excelled in the mountain biking event.

He is hoping for more of the same when the Games take place on what he describes as his home turf.

And when Glyn says 'home turf' he really means it.

The cross country on Saturday and the downhill on Sunday are being staged at Kilbroney, just outside Rostrevor, where he first started mountain biking as a kid and where he has been training for several years.

The 35-year-old firefighter is looking to make home advantage count.

"It's not very often you get the chance to race in front of your home crowd at an event as big as this," he said.

"These are my local trails and the trails I used when I was growing up. It's brilliant to see the World Police and Fire Games coming to my home turf.

"There has been a huge effort to get the training centre and trails up to the standard that is required and now the pinnacle will come this weekend when the events take place.

"I won double gold in Vancouver in 2009. The mountain bike events were cancelled due to the hurricane in New York a couple of years later so I suppose you could say that I'm the reigning champion.

"It was fantastic winning the golds four years ago. I arrived hoping that I could do well, but I didn't know what the standard of competitors was going to be like. I felt I would be competitive in the downhill, but I did the dual slalom as well and was quite surprised to go away with the double gold. If I can hang on to my gold medals this weekend I'll be chuffed to bits.

"Even to take part in these Games being held here will be special and if I was able to to do well that would be the icing on the cake."

O'Brien, who will face tough competition from Canada and the United States, should have plenty of support at the weekend.

And he hopes that is the case throughout Northern Ireland for the local competitors.

There has been some action so far, but the Games start in earnest today with the opening ceremony at the King's Hall in Belfast.

"In Vancouver in 2009 they did a brilliant job and if we can replicate anything like that it'll be an amazing Games," added Glyn. "The atmosphere has been building in the last few weeks here at Kilbroney and there is a real buzz about the events so we are expecting really good crowds to come and cheer the competitors on.

"I hope that is the case across the board with people coming out to support the Games."

O'Brien, a professional cyclist in Canada before becoming a firefighter, will be busy during the Games as he's not just limiting himself to his speciality.

He says: "Mountain biking is my main sport and what I train for, but next week I'll be doing the indoor rowing and Ultimate Firefighter competition.

"I'm doing that more for the craic and to wind down after what will hopefully be a successful weekend."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph