Xeno Young has won Ireland’s second silver medal at the UEC Junior and U23 Track European Championships in Portugal tonight, finishing behind Ivan Smirnov (Russia) in the gold medal final of the Men’s Junior Individual Pursuit.

Young’s 3.19.063 was the second fastest time in the Individual Pursuit qualifying rounds earlier today, guaranteeing the County Down man a European medal, and a chance to ride for gold. 2016 silver medallist, Smirvov, qualified for the ride off with 3.16.462, favourite for the title.

Speaking after the race, a relieved Young said: “I gave it everything. I knew going into it that if I raced my usual pace he would be faster, so I just went for it. I figured that if I blew up, I blew up, and it would be worth giving it a go.”

After leading for the first half of the race, the fast pace took its toll on Young, with the Russian moving into the gold medal position: “The last few laps were brutal! In that race, I did my slowest and fastest lap! I think my first kilometre was nearly a kilo record, but I’m really pleased with my medal, it feels good.”

Standing on the podium was particularly special for the seventeen-year-old, having finished fourth in this event last year: “Last year I didn’t know what to expect before the race, so it was completely different this year. I knew I was fast, so it was a lot easier this year – but I still felt like I had a lot of pressure, having come so close.”

“I’m really happy with how I went in the qualifiers, I paced it well, and now the medal is definitely a motivator for the rest of the races this week. I feel a lot more confident!”

Luke Smith finished 14th in the same race with a time of 3.27.255.

Limerick woman Autumn Collins was also in action today, in the U23 Women’s Sprint. Collins 200m time of 12.323 was enough to qualify her for the match sprints, where she was pitted against German powerhouse Pauline Grabosch, who progressed to the next round. The final standings in the Women’s U23 Sprint will see Collins in 16th place.

Tomorrow will be another big day for the Irish team, with Xeno Young back in action in the Men’s Junior Omnium, and Mark Downey competing in the Men’s U23 Points Race, an event in which he won silver last year. Nicole Gorry will also be racing, competing in the Women’s Junior Omnium, a competition consisting of four separate bunch races.



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