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Killarney rider Richard Maes excels at World Cyclocross Championships

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Experienced All Human Velorevolution rider Richard Maes is still going strong. Adam Moynihan chats to the accomplished Killarney cyclist to find out more about his latest showing at the World Championships.

Richard, congratulations on your recent success. Can you tell me a bit about the competition you were taking part in?

Thanks Adam. Yeah, it was the World Championships for Cyclocross in Ipswich. I came fourth in the masters section. It was there last year as well and I came fifth, so I knew the course and I was able to train more specifically for it.

So, was the goal heading into this year’s competition to finish higher than fifth?

Yeah, I was hoping for that, but last year there were Covid implications as well. A couple of the big fellas from Belgium and Holland didn’t show up. They did show up this year so I wasn’t quite sure how it would go. But it went well on the day, thankfully.

Can you explain how the sport works?

It’s a cross between mountain biking and road; the bike looks like a road bike with mountain bike wheels. It’s done off-road and there’s a lot of running involved and lot of man-made obstacles like stairs that you have to run up and down. They bring in a couple of hundred tonnes of sand for the course and make you go through it. Skilful riders can ride through it, others can’t and they just have sand in their shoes for the rest of the day. Some courses are hilly, some are flat.

As for the event, it a one-hour race that consists of a three-kilometre track. If a lap takes 10 minutes, they say you have six laps to do. They try to get it as close to the hour as possible.

It sounds pretty physical?

Yeah, it’s the hardest event you can do in terms of cycling. It’s the most demanding. My heartrate would be about 185 average for the hour. It’s the same pain as a 5k running race if you’re trying do that as fast as you can for 20 minutes, except this lasts an hour. It’s the same intensity. There’s a lot of high intensity gym training and weight training.

Tell me about this recent event. Did everything go to plan?

Everything went smoothly enough. Conditions were cold but it was bone dry. Normally we’d have a load of muck to deal with! It ended up being the fastest race of the year.

There were six of us together for the whole race, really, and then it split into three and three with two laps to go. It stayed that way until the end. There was only 13 seconds between first and fifth. It was tight racing all day.

What’s next on the agenda?

The National Championships are on in Dundalk the second weekend of January and we’re finished then. It’d be nice to get a medal there. I was fourth last year so it would be good to go one better this time. After that we’ll be back into road training in March. I’ll be looking to do the Rás and all that craic again. No rest for the wicked!

How is the body holding up overall? Is training getting that bit harder with age?

Not yet! The recovery hasn’t slowed down that much thankfully but I’d say if I did stop for a while and tried to get back going, I’d feel it. I’m training 50 weeks of the year. I’ll try and not get fat for another while!

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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