Ulster Cycling News
17Sep/140

Ulster Track Riders Compete Against the Best in Britain

aA seven-strong Ulster Youth track squad took centre stage last week at the Sainsbury`s School Games in Manchester where they competed at the world famous Manchester Velodrome as part of the three-day multi-sport event.

The squad comprised Shenna McKiverigan (Banbridge CC), Ciara Doogan (Errigal CC), Molly McLarnon (North Down CC), Xeno Young (unattached), Marc Heaney (CarnbWheelers), Conor McLoughlin (Newry Wheelers) and Harvey Barnes (East Tyrone CC) and the team was managed by Nicola McKiverigan and Gary McKeegan.

Thirteen UK regions made up the competition, with the added international flair of Brazil competing as a guest nation.  The three-day competition included Sprint, Scratch, Points, Pursuit, Time Trial, Team Sprint, Team Pursuit, Keirin and Madison races and provided a full and exhausting programme for all concerned.

The event was a major step up for Ulster's riders, some of whom hadn't competed on an indoor velodrome prior to this competition, although for one – Shenna McKiverigan – it was her third School Games, which was marked by her being given the honour of being Ulster's flag-bearer at the Games opening ceremony.  The riders were undaunted by the experience or the top class British
competition, and competed with confidence, determination and self-belief over the three days of racing which produced some notable results and provided a great learning experience.  Whilst we are always on the back-foot in Track racing by not having
indoor facilities to match those in Britain our riders nonetheless got `stuck in` and mixed it with the best throughout all the events.

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All riders deserve special mention, but on this occasion perhaps our youth women overshadowed the youtn men in the final results, posting a handful of top-10 results.  Shenna McKiverigan was perhaps pick of the bunch, recording a Sprint Qualifier flying 200metre time of 13.68 which saw her ride through to 9th place overall. Her qualifying time easily broke the newly-set Irish Junior Women`s record of 14.06, but unfortunately a Youth rider cannot claim a Junior record, and no Youth records are on the Cycling Ireland books.
Similarly her ride of 40.07 in the 500metre Time Trial event saw her finish 8th overall – again bettering the current Junior Women`s record which stands at 40.95.

Donegal girl Ciara Doogan – perhaps the `find` of the competition also dipped inside the 500metre record time, recording 40.15 for 9th place, and impressed further in the Pursuit event, finishing 5th in a time of 2min 38.5 seconds.  Given that this was Ciara`s first time indoors and that she rode on a `standard` bike with no tri-bars, no disc wheel and no aero helmet; she impressed all onlookers and was only just outside the previous Irish Junior record of 2.35 held by Mary Costello which was just beaten last month by Josie
Knight who rode a 2.29. McKiverigan also posted a top 6 overall finish, ending up 5th in the Keirin event having impressively won her way through the heats.

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Bangor`s Molly McLarnon also put in solid performances in the Points and Keirin events, also partnering McKiverigan as the opening rider in the Team Sprint and was the lynch-pin in the Team Pursuit event where the Girls ended up 13th.

The boy`s competition was equally daunting, with our riders up against the best in Britain – many of whom are already on British Cycling performance squads.  The difference in equipment was also notable, with all sorts of performance-gaining equipment on show with a paddock that would not look out of place at a World Cup or Olympic Games.  Once again the Ulster kids got stuck in with Marc Heaney getting inside the top 20 in the Sprint Qualifier with a 12.5second ride. Not bad considering it was his first attempt and he was on a borrowed bike.

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Conor McLoughlin and Xeno Young also put in strong rides in the `distance` events, acquitting themselves well in the Points and Scratch races.  Young was also impressive in the 500m Time Trial, and whilst still a relative newcomer to the sport recorded 37.6seconds for 19th place.

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Marc Heaney and Harvey Barnes were chosen to represent Ulster in the Madison event, and as most people know this is a highly technical and challenging event. The duo performed above expectation and thankfully managed to avoid a serious crash which saw riders hospitalised, with the Ulster pair ending up 11th overall.

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Overall it was a great experience for riders, coaches and parents alike, and it is thanks to the hard work and dedication of them all that the event was such a success for our riders, and once again Ulster can hold its head high against the best track youngsters in the UK.

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Anthony Mitchell - Ulster Track Coach. 

Posted By Marian Lamb

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