By Gary Anderson

March 3 - Irish Paralympian Catherine Walsh (left) has announced she is retiring from international cycling competition ©Getty Images Ireland's Catherine Walsh has called it a day and announced her retirement from international cycling competition after a career which saw her claim three Paralympic medals and a world title.

Walsh made the first of six consecutive Paralympic Games appearances at Barcelona 1992, where she competed in athletics events, before going on to claim a bronze at Sydney 2000 in the pentathlon competition.

After competing at Athens 2004, the Dubliner transferred to cycling in 2007 and began the most successful period of her career.

Two years later she took a silver at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Para-cycling Track World Championships, before securing more World Championship success in 2011 when her and pilot Fran Meehan claimed track and road bronze medals in Italy and Denmark respectively.

That was followed by gold in the individual pursuit at the Track World Championships in Los Angeles in 2012.

At London 2012, the duo built on that success and demonstrated their versatility by claiming a track silver medal in the individual pursuit and a bronze medal in the road time trial.

Speaking about her decision to retire, 40-year-old Walsh told the North County Leader: "It came from a combination of factors, one being that for some health issues I felt that I wasn't going to be able to achieve a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics, which was what I wanted to achieve.

"I soon realised that this wasn't going to be achievable, and that combined with the fact that my kids are getting older, and I want to be around for them, made me come to my decision to retire from the competitive side of things.

"But, I've had a good run and I'm more than happy with everything that I have achieved."

Catherine Walsh and pilot Fran Meehan (left) secured track and road medals at London 2012 along with a World Championship gold in the same year ©Getty Images Catherine Walsh and pilot Fran Meehan (left) secured track and road medals at London 2012 along with a World Championship gold in the same year ©Getty Images

Walsh, who is visually impaired, works as a physiotherapist at Lusk Community Centre in north Dublin, but revealed she intends to continue doing the sport she loves and wants to get into coaching to encourage youngsters to follow their Paralympic dreams.

"Catherine has had a wonderful Paralympic career that many can only dream of, like competing at six consecutive Games [which] is a massive achievement in itself," said Paralympics Ireland chief executive Liam Harbison, who was also Team Ireland Chef de Mission at London 2012.

"To then medal at two Games in different disciplines sets her apart, and is testament to her enormous talent and unrivalled work ethic.

"She is a tremendous role model for any aspiring athlete; driven, hardworking, committed, and one of the fiercest competitors around."

Walsh will not be defending her world title at the Para-cycling Track World Championships in Mexico next month, where Katie-George Dunlevy and pilot Eve McCrystal will be tasked with retaining the crown won by Walsh and Meehan.

The rest of the Irish squad is made up of Reigning C2 individual pursuit world champion Colin Lynch, London 2012 bronze medallist James Brown and pilot Bryan McCrystal, and Paralympian Enda Smyth.

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