Sibling rivalry fuels success for Irish cyclist DUNNE
GLASGOW - The DUNNE family put themselves on the international sporting map at the start of July when cyclist Conor was crowned Irish road race champion a few days before sister Katy put a former French Open tennis champion through her paces on Wimbledon's Centre Court.
Conor DUNNE (IRL), who will compete in the road race at the Glasgow 2018 European Championships, secured his title at Collooney in Co. Sligo at the beginning of July, the latest highlight in a career that keeps getting better.
The Team Aqua Blue rider attributes his thirst for success to a lifelong sibling rivalry that has pushed brother and sister to greater achievements.
"Katy and I always hated to lose at anything, especially if we were competing against each other," DUNNE said. "Our parents banned us from playing table tennis after she threw her bat at me when I'd beaten her again. She just couldn't handle losing another game to me."
Katy disagrees, claiming that she was the superior table tennis player and that Conor got them banned for smashing his bat in a fit of pique.
"You always have huge rivalry between brothers and sisters, but I'm intensely proud of Katy and all that she has achieved," 26-year-old Conor said. "Two days after I won my title, she was on Centre Court at Wimbledon against Latvian Jelena OSTAPENKO, who won the French Open in 2017 and reached the semifinals of this year's Wimbledon.
"Katy took the second set to a tie-break, before eventually losing. She also won her first match in the doubles. It was an amazing experience for her, and our parents couldn't have been more delighted as they watched from the royal box.
"There wasn't enough time for me to get from Ireland to watch her, but I was with her in spirit."
Away from table tennis, another matter the squabbling siblings could not agree on was their nationality. Conor opted for Ireland - where his grandparents hailed from - while Katy is happy to represent Great Britain.
"I grew up in England, but I come from a large Irish family and I've always been very proud of my roots," he said. "I took part in athletics events for London Irish, and it was Ireland who offered me the opportunity to ride for them when I was 18.
"I called Katy a traitor for representing Britain, but it's something we have a laugh about and we respect each other's choices."
DUNNE has established himself as a giant of Irish cycling and the term can be applied literally.
"At 2.03m I'm officially the tallest professional cyclist in the world," he said. "It presents challenges, such as having to have my footwear custom made as I am a size 49 [UK size 14]. I'm happy to be cycling for a living, and my ambition is to keep improving, to compete in bigger races, and have a long career."
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