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Ireland’s first BMX Freestyle representative qualifies for the European Championship final

Ryan Henderson is through to tomorrow’s final.

Ryan Henderson.
Ryan Henderson.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

IRELAND’S EUROPEAN AND Para-Cycling Road World Championship got off to a strong start yesterday with Ryan Henderson qualifying for the BMX Freestyle final, Gary O’Reilly coming close to a medal in the time trial and the team pursuit squad securing a place in the next round.

Ireland’s first representative in BMX Freestyle Park at a European Championships pulled out all the stops in his heat to land himself a spot in tomorrow’s final.

The east Belfast athlete had two chances to prove himself against a strong field of riders. From front flips to double-backflips, Henderson gave it his all and was awarded 66 points (out of 99.9) for his first run and went marginally better in his second run to get 66.04 points, finishing with an average score of 66.02 which was enough to see him qualify in 11th place for the final on Saturday.

“I’m absolutely stoked,” said Henderson, reacting to the news that he qualified.

“I can’t believe it. I had two good runs, although my first one kind of got a bit weird and I went a bit off course, but we stayed on. Sitting in 11th place going into the final, that’s amazing, I’m so stoked.

“We’ll do small changes because we can take a bit of a risk since there’s just one round that counts. We’ll feel it out tomorrow and come Saturday we’ll see what we can do.”

Ireland’s Women’s Team Pursuit squad of Emily Kay, Kelly Murphy, Mia Griffin and Alice Sharpe completed the 4,000-meter team pursuit in a time of 4:26.028. This time was enough to see them through to the first round which takes place today. 

Ireland will now face the 7th fastest qualifier, Poland in the next round. With Emily Kay competing in the scratch race tomorrow, Lara Gillespie will take her place in the Team Pursuit.

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On the opening day of competition at the Para-Cycling Road World Championships in Baie-Comeau, Canada Paralympic bronze medallist, Gary O’Reilly narrowly missed out on a medal in the time trial. The Portlaoise hand-cyclist came agonisingly close to grasping the bronze medal from Luis Costa of Portugal.

O’Reilly completed the 18.9km course in 30:36.88, over three seconds down on the Portuguese rider and 2:18.12 down on gold medal winner Mitch Valize (Netherlands). Loic Vergnaud of France claimed the silver medal. Declan Slevin was also in action today competing in the H3 time trial where he finished in 12th position.

Attention now turns to today’s time trials with double Paralympic gold medallists Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal competing to win back their world titles, while double World-Cup silver medallists Josephine Healion and her pilot Linda Kelly will be hoping to make their mark at the World Championships coming off the back of a successful World Cup.

European silver medallist Ronan Grimes will also be competing today along with the relatively new tandem pairing, Damien Vereker and Dillon Corkery.

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