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Sports Person of the Year 2016: Why Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal deserve their nomination

Three years after two strangers took a leap of faith together, they made Irish Paralympic history in September.

THE SHORTLIST FOR RTÉ Sports Person of the Year is packed with worthy contenders.

Ryan Bailey endorses the claims of Paralympic gold and silver road cycling medallists Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal…

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - Day 7 Source: Diarmuid Greene/SPORTSFILE

A little over three years since first meeting as complete strangers, Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal etched their name into Irish sporting history in Rio as they blazed to Paralympic glory.

On a truly memorable afternoon on 14 September, the tandem pair followed fellow nominee Eoghan Clifford in claiming road cycling gold as they obliterated the field to storm home by more than half a minute.

Three days later, Dunlevy and McCrystal secured Ireland’s tenth medal of the Games with another stellar ride around the coastal town of Pontal to add Road Race silver to their collection.

It capped an incredible few weeks for Dunlevy and her pilot, who at 38 and with two young kids, put her life and career — as a Garda — on hold to embark on this journey.

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - Day 2 Source: Paul Mohan/SPORTSFILE

Out of the 13 nominees for this year’s award, Dunlevy and McCrystal are arguably the least well known but that doesn’t mean their achievements are any less notable.

The build-up to the Paralympics had been a little bumpy and falling short of a medal on the track on the opening day of the Rio Games was a rather inauspicious start.

But the pair showed resolve, determination and single-minded doggedness to pick themselves back up and produce two outstanding performances to achieve the dreams they had set out just three short years ago.

What did it mean to them? One of the sports photographs of the year just about captures it all.

Rio 2016 Paralympic Games - Day 7 Source: SPORTSFILE

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Ryan Bailey

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