26 July 18:12 (BST)

Irish road cyclist BURNS has Scotland in her sights

GLASGOW - Part-time cyclist Eileen BURNS (IRL) could see Scotland across the water from the small town where she grew up in Northern Ireland - but the road cycling time trial (TT) at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships will be the first time she has competed in the country.

The 29-year-old, Ireland's national champion in 2017, is a fast-improving TT specialist and likely to be among the leaders in her event, which starts at Glasgow's iconic Riverside Museum on  8 August.

And the prospect of competing in a country she once viewed wistfully from her bedroom window excites BURNS hugely.

"I grew up in a small town in Northern Ireland called Ballycastle and it was so close to the west coast of Scotland that you could see it across the water on a clear day," she said.

"Despite my proximity to the country when I was growing up, I have never competed there, so it's going to be a real landmark in my cycling career.

"I've visited Scotland in the past, to watch my husband Jason take part in the stock car racing at Cowdenbeath. He'll be the one watching me this time."

BURNS credits her husband with getting her involved in cycling, a sport for which she discovered she had a natural aptitude.

"I first took up cycling when I moved to Ballymena with my husband. His family, including his father and sister, used to go out on the bikes every Saturday morning. So I decided to join them and I took to it immediately," she said.

"I started to go out more and more, and without any proper training or strategy I managed to get close to some of the Irish records. So I got myself a coach and it really took off from there."

BURNS recently finished 11th in the time trial at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, an experience she describes as the "absolute highlight of my career".

The need, however, to balance cycling with a full-time career as an occupational therapist makes it highly unlikely she will ever make a living from her bike.

"I had to take three months of unpaid leave to go to Australia, so something like the Olympics would be beyond me.

"I'm very happy in my job as a wheelchair specialist in occupational therapy. It's very rewarding and you can make a big difference to people's lives."

CNS am/pp/rm/mr/tb

CNS content is available free of charge to all media. No copyright restrictions apply.