Swift aiming to hit top gear in spearheading Irish challenge

NECESSITY is the mother of invention, goes the old adage. It held true when Colette Swift arrived in London some years ago and walked straight into he middle of a tube train strike and had no option but to buy a bike to commute across the city to work.

On Saturday the Fermoy-born cyclist will spearhead Ireland’s challenge in the elite women’s road race at the world cycling championships in Verona.

Most of the attention will be focused on Friday’s Under-23 road race when Philip Deignan and Nicolas Roche, son of the legendary Stephen, will go to the line among the medal favourites.

However, the two women, Colette Swift and Louise Moriarty, have earned their right to perform at this level.

“I am looking forward to it but I know I will have mixed emotions going out there,” Swift said yesterday as she packed her bags in France where she now lives and works.

“There are so many things about the race.

“It is a very tough circuit - both Jennie Longo and Nicole Cooke are agreed on that.

“So I will go out there and do the best I can for my country.”

Colette comes from a sporting background; her father Jim Dennigan was one of the most respected football referee’s in the country, officiating right up to the highest level.

And the town of Fermoy - home of the legendary Frank O’Sullivan - has been synonymous with cycling for generations.

She had little more than a passing interest in the sport until she graduated from DCU with a degree in communications and arrived in London in the middle of that strike.

“When the strike was over I just kept on cycling and next thing I knew I was racing competitively,” she said.

But she turned her attentions to the triathlon and in 2000 she was the first athlete from the UK/Ireland in the Ironman Triathlon in Roth, Germany.

She finished fourth in the Seven Sisters Cross-Country Marathon and the Turnbridge Wells Half Marathon.

She eventually concentrated on cycling and had six top 12 placings in major road races in 2001, finished fourth in the All-Ireland championships the following year and, since then has gone from strength to strength under the guidance of top UK coach, Brian Taylor.

She admits his influence was a big turning point as she had actually been contemplating retirement.

He planned a programme and before long she was taking her career to a whole new level.

She finished second in the national championships last year and was runner-up again this year when she should have won the title.

Last year, too, she was fourth in the Tour of Okinawa in Japan, had a clean sweep at the Isle of Wight Two-Day, was first woman in the Dunboyne 3-Day and finished third in the MOD Chertsey Cat 4 Men’s race.

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