Mark Downey has won a bronze medal in the Points Race at the UEC Junior and U23 Track European Championships in Anadia, Portugal tonight. This brings to three the number of medals won by Ireland in these championships so far. The Men’s U23 Points Race was won by Niklas Larsen (Den), silver went to Ethan Hayter (GB) and Downey took bronze.
Dromore’s Downey was one of the pre-race favourites to podium following a phenomenal season last year, where he was dominant in the Points Race, winning two gold medals in the Track World Cups.
“I’m really happy to take bronze tonight. It was a hard race, but I knew it was going to be. The three of us in the medals were the strongest in the race – the Danish guy (Niklas Larsen) was phenomenal, he is the reigning Elite European Champion, and has an Olympic Bronze from Rio.”
21-year-old Downey was silver medallist in this event in 2016, adding to the silver he won in the junior category in 2014, so is no stranger to the podium. However, he has spent the past three months competing on the road.
“I know there was a wee bit of pressure on me after the great season I had last year. I did a lot of road work coming into this, so wasn’t too fast in the sprint – when I’m coming off the road it is always something I lack.”
Along with Larsen, Downey took a lap early in the race, and followed it with two more, with Hayter also taking laps. The Irishman sat in silver medal position until the very last sprint, before being pipped to bronze.
Downey described how the race unfolded: “Myself and the Danish guy got off from the start, and really committed to it. We took the lap with no real problem, so we just kept going and got three in the end. Hayter (GB) is very quick in the sprint, so with the strength of Larsen on each sprint lap, it was like a lead out for him.”
This brings the medal haul to three, following the silver medals won by Xeno Young in the Men’s Junior Individual Pursuit and JB Murphy in the Men’s Junior Elimination Race.
Downey attributes the success of the team to the good atmosphere in the camp, saying: “There’s a really good atmosphere in the camp this year, everyone is playing their part in that, and a good atmosphere brings the performances out.”
Today Young finished just outside the medals in the Men’s Junior Omnium, in fourth place, with a strong performance in the final points race bringing him from ninth to fourth. Mullingar’s Nicole Gorry was also impressive in the Women’s Junior Omnium’s Points Race, lapping the field resulting in a final position of 9th place. Earlier in the day Orla Harrison finished 14th in the Women’s Junior 500m with a time of 40.201.
Racing continues tomorrow with Downey competing in the Men’s U23 Omnium. Autumn Collins races in the Women’s U23 Keirin, while in the junior category Orla Harrison and Luke Smith will take on the Points Races.