LONDON 2012: Dunlevy seizes second chance as she swaps rowing for cycling
INJURY often defines sports by the finest of margins. A broken metatarsal here or a pulled hamstring there can be the difference between success and failure.
BELIEF: Rower turned cyclist Kate Dunlevy is confident about finally making her Paralympic debut at London 2012
Being crocked from your particular sport can often lead to heartbreak, but at the same time it can open doors and new opportunities arise.
This was certainly the case for Katie Dunlevy.
As a former British Paralympic rower, the Crawley born athlete had the chance to hit the big time but was denied by a broken rib.
The 30-year-old was part of Team GB’s adaptive rowing squad in the mixed coxed four for a number of years and achieved gold medals in two World Championships, in Spain in 2004 and Japan in 2005.
However injury cost her a place at the 2006 World Championships and ultimately her spot in the GB squad as they prepared for the 2008 Paralympics.
“I was absolutely devastated; it was the worst time of my life I knew I hurt myself, but I really thought I was ok and I could battle through it,” she said.
“I thought they made the wrong decision because I thought I would be ok to compete.”
After failing to make the cut for Great Britain, Dunlevy tried her luck with the newly formed Irish rowing squad – qualifying for both nations because of her father’s nationality.
But the luck of the Irish failed to rub off on her and once again she failed to make the rowing squad. However, after seeing potential, they threw her a lifeline – this time in road cycling.
“I was a bit apprehensive when I was first approached to cycle. I didn’t know much about cycling, I thought it was a wussy sport,” added Dunlevy.
“Because rowing was really hard, I thought cycling looked easy. What did I know?
“I thought it about it a bit I realised it would be a great way back into sport. I had nothing to lose. Everyone was really positive, before I even got on a bike.
“In the beginning, every time I got on the bike I improved. My relationship with my pilot, Louise improved. I was learning all the time.
“They said when I first starting riding that I was fearless, which apparently is good thing. I loved going down hills in a tandem.”
Louise Moriarty is a former professional cyclist and has won 20 national titles and was ranked 35th in the world before the Beijing Games.
However, her chance of attending the Olympics was also ruined through injury.
While the pair have only been cycling together for a few months, their eyes are firmly set on 2012. However, their qualification for the Paralympics depends largely on their performance at the Para-Cycling World Championships in Los Angeles next February.
“I am thinking about 2012, every time I do I get a little bit excited. We recently tried on the kit, so it was hard not to think about,” she said.
“The fact the games are in London is spurring me on even more. Knowing my friends and family will be able to go is amazing; if it were aboard they probably wouldn’t all be able to go. Of all the games I’d want to go to, this would be the one.
“After everything that has happened to me, it would a mean massive deal to me if I were to go.
“If I go I’ll be aiming to get a medal at best, but I’ll just be so happy to be there. A medal would something you could show off for the rest of your life.
“But there’s a lot to do before we’re even considered to go to 2012. We both need to stay injury free and get fitter, but before you know it, it will be here.”
© Sportsbeat 2011