Martyn Irvine makes Irish cycling history with world gold and silver medals in Minsk
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: February 21, 2013 9:44pm
Martyn Irvine won the scratch race with a late attack
Martyn Irvine rewrote Irish track cycling history by claiming gold and silver medals within a space of an hour at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk.
The 27-year-old became the first Irish male rider to win a world championship medal on the track since Harry Reynolds triumphed in the amateur one-mile race in 1896.
Irvine's first medal was a silver in the men's individual pursuit, which he then promptly followed up with a sensational gold in the 15km scratch race just a short time later.
He said afterwards: "I honestly don't think it has hit me yet. I am exhausted. It's just awesome. Everything worked right.
"I have been chipping away for the last few years on a shoestring budget trying to get there. It's is worth it now. It all paid off tonight."
Irvine's historic day began in Thursday's morning session, when he guaranteed himself a place in the men's individual pursuit gold-medal race by qualifying second fastest.
He was outclassed in the final early in the evening session by the excellent Australian Michael Hepburn, who also won gold in Wednesday's team pursuit.
Irvine's time of 4:22.53 was slower than his qualifying mark and he was almost caught by reigning champion Hepburn.
But the Irishman wasn't deterred, because he dusted himself down for the scratch race and set up his victory with a daring lone attack 10 laps from the finish.
A group of chasers drew close to his back wheel going into the final lap, but he managed to hold them all off in the finishing straight to seal a remarkable gold medal.
Irvine added: "I saw 2km to go and thought, 'This is all or nothing'. I was waiting on a crowd of people passing me, but they never did.
"After the pursuit final I was finished and I said, 'That's it, I'm going to be out of this race at the first chance'. But I got into the race, stayed near the front, stayed out of trouble."