Dromore cyclist Mark Downey is on top of the world.
When he won a silver medal at the European U23 Track Championships back in July, he said it was ‘only the beginning.’ Boy was he right.
Just four months on and Downey has gone from European U23 runner-up to world cup winner.
Even he isn’t sure how to get his head around it.
“I can’t believe it. To win a world cup at just 20 years old really is out of this world,” he said.
“I don’t think it has sunk in yet. I keep looking at the medal and wondering if it’s made of chocolate.”
Downey won the points race at the UCI World Cup in Holland on Saturday evening. He was four points clear of silver medal winner Morgan Kneisky to join Irish cycling legend Martyn Irvine as a World Cup gold medallist and take his place amongst the most exclusive of Irish cycling clubs.
“It was the happiest moment of my life by far,” beamed the Banbridge CC rider. “There was a guy in the race - Kenny De Ketele - who is my screen cover on my phone as he’s a bit of a hero of mine so to be ahead of him in the result sheet is crazy.
“I really wanted this. I have just spent five weeks with David (Muntaner – coach) working very hard. I took a short break before this trying to decide where I wanted to go – and I really want to win the World Championships this year. You reap the rewards when you really want something.”
Downey is off to Geneva next week to take part in the Madison event - “a show boating type race” as he calls it.
And now more than ever, our own world cup winner will be one of the key attractions.