Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal share Sportswoman of the Month award

The Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman Award for August: Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal (Cycling)

When it came to deciding about adding them to our 2017 roll of honour, the only difficulty Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal presented the Sportswomen of the Year panel of judges was which month to choose, the pair weighed down by medals after their efforts so far this year.

Both women were intent on building on their success in Rio last year, when they came home with gold and silver in their luggage, and they’ve more than met their target.

While McCrystal had her own individual goals for 2017, and Dunlevy had medal aspirations too with her other partner Katharine Smyth, as a team their chief aspiration for the year was success at the Para-cycling Road World Championships in South Africa. Their form ahead of that trip ensured they travelled to Pietermaritzburg with confidence high.

By then McCrystal’s August victory in round six of the National Road Series ultimately proved enough for her to seal the title. In all, she won four of the six rounds she competed in and was second in the other two, building up a big enough points lead to secure the title despite being unable to compete in the final round because she was on World Championship duty with Dunlevy.

The Garda CC rider was hardly home from South Africa when she was back in action in the Rás na mBan, her career-best fifth-place finish making her the race’s leading Irish competitor.

Dunlevy, meanwhile, had enjoyed her own domestic success back in June when she teamed up with Smyth to win gold in the para-cycling tandem event at the national championships, the same pairing having already picked up gold and silver at the second round of the World Cup in Belgium the previous month.

It was with McCrystal, though, that Dunlevy enjoyed the bulk of her World Cup success, the pair winning time-trial and road-race gold medals at the opening round in Italy, Dunlevy’s first race of the year, and repeating the feat in the third round in the Netherlands. That made them the series leaders as they headed for South Africa for the main event of the season. “It was as if we were one person on the bike,” said Dunlevy, she and McCrystal working in tandem in every sense of the word.

It was in the time trial at the World Championships that they collected their first gold medal, finishing six seconds clear of the British pair of Lora Fachie and Corrie Hall, doubling their golden haul in the same week in the road race, outsprinting Poland in a bunch finish to take their second world title.

In the end Dunlevy and McCrystal took our August award, but it could have been any month from half a dozen. The year, it’s safe to say, has gone rather well.