Dromore cyclist Mark Downey is confident he can compete at the top of world cycling after helping Ireland to a national record.
Along with ex World Champion Martyn Ervine, Felix English and Fintan Ryan, Downey secured the Irish record by the narrowest of margins in the four-kilometre Team Pursuit at the European Track Championships last week.
Downey also raced solo in his favourite race, the Points, where he finished 14th in a top class field.
“We got the new Irish record by 0.1 of a second or something crazy,” he told the ‘LEADER.’
“It’s a record that’s been standing for six years so we were very happy to break that just five weeks after this team was put together.
“We know we have a lot more in the tank but to take the record on our first attempt bodes well for the future and I am really looking forward to getting stuck back into more training.
“It was a huge opportunity to get to there as a 19 year old as I was racing with world champions and Olympic champions. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
The Championships were broadcast live on Eurosport but the budding talent didn’t let the glare of the media spotlight interrupt his fixed gaze.
“To be live on Eurosport was unreal,” he beamed. “I think it worked up the hunger to prove to people that in a couple of years I will be competitive at this event and I know I can.
“I wasn’t fazed by the cameras or opponents because I just have this stuck in attitude and that’s exactly what I did.”
Downey has every right to believe he can work his way to the top of the leaderboards. His impressive display showed he has the mental strength required of a top sportsman, as he had to overcome a ‘freak accident’ that left the racer with a big gash down his side just two weeks previous.
“I come away from my debut in a senior championships satisfied but I always expect more of myself,” he said.
“In the team pursuit, my legs were ok, I’ve had better, but I have just been scrambling this past while to get fitness after my crashes.
“In the points race, I was active and there was a possibility of gaining a lap which could have landed me the gold medal. The strength wasn’t there but the head was and I know that, which again is a positive to me.
“I look forward to putting more time and effort in over the next year after deferring university to pick up a good result which will the first big step in my career.”
There’s no rest for Downey, who is now in London for the Amateur Six Days, although he is racing over just three nights in three madison events.
“A Madison is like a points race but a relay between two guys,” he explained. “It’s 160 laps and we tag eachother to go into the race. When you’re out of the race, you wait high and slow on the banking before coming back in.
“It’s a very good level to learn with a lot of talent there. We got stuck in on the opening night and got fifth with having the wrong gears on and riding with very basic wheels compared to the other teams. It’s a step down from the Euros so with having the right gears and equipment I will be disappointed if we don’t pull a win out of the bag.”