Scott Orwell Wheelers’ Lara Gillespie produced two exceptional performances to land gold and silver at the European Junior Track Championship in Aigle, Switzerland over the weekend, coming out on top in the points race.
The 17-year-old student from Wesley College has been in sensational form for some time and had earlier taken the silver medal in the individual pursuit event.
Gillespie adds the two European Junior medals to an Irish road race championships victory last month, 11 national titles spread across track, road and cyclocross, and four gold medals from the Irish Junior Championships last year.
She also took a European Youth Olympics silver medal last summer, a collection marking her as a serious Irish cycling prospect.
As well as her podium finishes, she narrowly missed out on a medal in the Euro omnium event earlier in the championships, finishing fourth/
In her gold medal performance, Gillespie took two of the key early point-scoring sprints outright, putting her in a strong position early on but was dragged back by Ukranian rider Olha Kulynych. She gained 20 points on the field by breaking from the group and taking a full lap on the rest of the pack.
That left Gillespie in control of her own destiny but needing to perform in the final sprint. She again took the win outright to take gold, finishing ahead of Kulynych and Polish rider Marta Jaskulska.
The Orwell rider’s achievements are made all the more impressive by the facilities with which Gillespie typically has to train. The Aigle event is hosted on a top-end indoor track, and unlike many of her main competitors at the European Juniors, Gillespie has no such track in Ireland to train on herself.
Gillespite told RTE afterwards: “Once I knew I was on equal points, I put my head down and decided to just go for it. I was trying to do everything right and I didn’t want anything to stop me from winning. I was ecstatic when I knew I had won.
“I was so proud standing up on the podium and actually getting to hear the Irish anthem. I was so happy.”
Orwell Wheelers are unquestionably one of Ireland’s most successful cycling clubs and they also took home the Cal McCarthy Cup for road racing through Cahir O’Higgins last week.