Big thank you from

Commonwealth joy as Lisburn student wins cycling bronze

Sean Downey South Eastern Regional College Sport students and Commonwealth Games Bronze medal winner Sean Downey alongside his tutors Ronan McAnespie and Alan Simpson.

South Eastern Regional College Sport students and Commonwealth Games Bronze medal winner Sean Downey alongside his tutors Ronan McAnespie and Alan Simpson.

WINNING a medal at the Commonwealth Games is a fantastic achievement in itself, however, for Lisburn student Sean Downey this was an even greater achievement as two weeks before the games he wasn't expecting to participate never mind finish on the podium.

Dromore cyclist Sean is basking in glory after winning a bronze medal in the team pursuit at the 2010 Games.

It was a remarkable achievement for Sean, who is studying for a National Diploma in Sport at South Eastern Regional College (SERC), as he suffered a career threatening crash in May 2010 while competing in France.

Sean explained; "During the fourth stage of the Ronde de I'Isard in south Toulouse I came off my bike and suffered a very bad crash, I was unconscious and had to be airlifted to hospital. I don't remember anything about any of the race, all I remember was waking up in hospital, my face was covered in cuts and I had a fractured eye socket.

"Thankfully I managed to avoid any broken bones in my arms and legs as this would have kept me out of action longer.

"At this stage I thought my chance of competing at the Commonwealths was over and I was just focusing on getting my confidence back both mentally and physically. However two weeks before the games I received a call asking did I want to replace Connor McConvey who been forced to pull out, I jumped at the opportunity and I suppose the rest is history."

In winning the bronze the cyclists became Northern Ireland's first medal winners of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. The team quartet of Sean, Martyn Irvine, Philip Lavery and David
McCann saw off the challenge of host nation India to take the bronze.

Sean rides for the Marseille-based VC La Ponne club in southern France and spent one year at the World cycling centre in Switzerland. His career has included a top-10 finish in the European Junior championships and a victory at the Irish Under-23 National Road Race Championships.

Whilst fully focused on his cycling career he also recognises the importance of education and
combines his training with study. He is currently studying a National Diploma in Sport which is delivered through a distant learning platform, providing flexibility for when Sean is out of the country training and competing.

Colette Carson, Head of School for Sport at SERC, said; "I would like to congratulate Sean and his fellow teammates on winning bronze medal at the Commonwealth games, it was a fantastic achievement made even more special when you consider the ordeal he had to overcome in the summer. Sean's determination and resilience is reflected in his studies as he strives to complete a national diploma whilst also training and competing as an elite athlete.

"The next 18 months are going to be very important as he trains for his dream of competing at the Olympics and also completes his national diploma. I wish him well and will provide as much support as possible."

Ulster Star