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08th Mar 2019

Irish Paralympian Eve McCrystal on the advice she would give young girls thinking of taking up a sport

Keeley Ryan

For Paralympic cyclist Eve McCrystal, the decision to get involved with the 20×20 initiative was an easy one.

The mum-of-two – a member of An Garda Síochana in Co Monaghan – took up competitive cycling when she was 33-years-old.

Now at the age of 40, she has competed in tandem events for Ireland as a sighted pilot for blind cyclist Katie-George Dunlevy – with the two of them taking home two medals in cycling at the 2016 Summer Paralympics.

After becoming inspired by the panel at the 20×20 launch last year, she became determined to get involved – but with her current training to qualify for Tokyo 2020, it took on a different meaning for her.

The mum-of-two told Her about her involvement with the initiative, the piece of advice she would give any girl thinking of taking up a sport (or getting back into one),  and the pledge she would be making as part of the #ShowYourStripes campaign.

She said:

“For me to be involved more, it’s a lot [with the training for Tokyo 2020]. I’m thinking that the only thing I can do as a woman in sports is make sure I can be more visible to them, their school friends and other young girls. 

“As a mother and an older athlete, I want to show my children what can be done – that the women who are trying to juggle everything like work, training and life at home; they can be the best.

“I want to show them what’s possible when you’re a working mum, training to go to 2020 – even though it’s small, I want to show them it’s possible; it’s not unattainable.

“When Tokyo 2020 is finished, I hope to take part in local matches and games – but as I’m competing at the moment, all I can be is visible and let my children make the decision themselves.”

As for the advice she would give any girl or woman who was thinking of taking up a sport (or who was thinking of getting back into one), she said:

“[It would be] the advice I’d give my own daughters: ‘If you’re going to do something, you have to enjoy what you’re doing – if you don’t, it’s not the sport for you.’

“It’s important to be passionate about [the sport] and there’s a whole other side of it – like the friends you make.

“Most of all, stay true to yourself whatever you decide.”

She added that while there’s a part of her that feels like she’s failing her daughters “because I simply can’t do everything”, 20×20 has given her more confidence as a mum.

She continued:

“This initiative gives me huge confidence as a mother that I’m doing the right thing and hopefully what they see their mammy doing will be the norm in their own life.

“Even if it’s not a sport they choose, they see discipline hard work and a lot of sacrifice to be the best version of themselves.”

To mark International Women’s Day, 20×20 is asking everyone to #ShowYourStripes and pledge one action to support girls and women in sport in 2019.

Whether it’s attending more women’s games as a fan or introducing a pal (or more than one) to a sport that you love, show your support and post your action (big or small) online using #ShowYourStripes and #20×20.

20×20 is an ambitious two-year long initiative to better promote and champion women in sport.

With the tagline of “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it,” the 20×20 movement has three targets to reach by 2020:

  • 20 percent more media coverage of women in sport
  • 20 percent more female participation
  • 20 percent more attendance at women’s competitions and events

And at Maximum Media, we’re proud that Her and SportsJOE is backing the 20×20 movement as official digital media partners.