Cycling runs in Eoin Mullen’s family but that isn’t the only sport his nearest and dearest adore.
The sprinter, born and raised in Kilronan on the island of Ireland, was first introduced to competitive cycling as a mere ten-year-old, taking part in a community competition that first ignited his passion for speed.
But his attention soon turned to rugby owing to his well-built physique, following in the footsteps of his older brother Paul who represented Munster Academy as a prop.
And while Eoin hit the cycling headlines recently for his sparkling performance in the Sprint Finals on the opening night of Phynova Six Day London, it’s Paul who has risen to even greater sporting heights as he represented the USA in the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
It’s a remarkable tale of two siblings whose close relationship is tangible, spurring each other on at every opportunity to propel them forwards and push their next boundary.
And Eoin, who eventually finished sixth in the sprinters’ general classification at Phynova Six Day London, nostalgically reflected on their journeys and intimate bond.
“My brother Paul grew up playing rugby like me – he was on the Munster Academy before he went to university in Texas, while I had trials at Leinster so I guess I was pretty good too,” the 26-year-old speedster remembered.
“My grandfather was from America so my brother then declared for the United States when he moved there, and in the last year he made his first cap for the country.
“Most recently he got picked for the World Cup squad in Japan – he loved it all, apart from the result for the USA as they unfortunately got kicked out pretty early!
“But it was all positive for him and he loved the experience – I was actually in the States at the time of his game against Tonga and I watched it at like three or four o’clock in the morning.
“We both always support each other – we’re always throwing ideas at each other and always suggesting stuff about the gym and telling each other what we’re doing, so it’s pretty good.
“Paul watched me on the first night of Six Day on a live stream, and hopefully he comes and watches me at the velodrome one day too!”
While Paul’s rise is one full of its own nuances and idiosyncrasies, Eoin’s own personal cycling story represents a similarly evocative one.
The Kilronan-born crowd-pleaser became immersed in the sport as a toddler, with his father owning a bike rental shop in Ireland that initially introduced him to the peddling pastime.
And while rugby temporarily intervened, an injury sustained by Mullen soon led to an inadvertent return to competitive cycling.
“I guess cycling is in my DNA with my dad owning the shop – I kind of lived and breathed it,” he added.
“I always grew up around bikes – I’ve been around them since I was a little kid before I could even walk.
“I started cycling at a community event in Ireland on a grass track when I was about ten, but then I decided to start playing rugby.
“But I got injured playing rugby when I was about 16 or 17, and cycling was actually my rehab so I got back into it that way, but I was always too big to be an endurance rider.
“When I’m done training and get a week or two off I head home and I’m straight on the bikes again so I can’t get away from them, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Mullen, who accepts the Olympic Games in Tokyo may come slightly too soon for him, is currently studying for an online degree in strength and conditioning in preparation for a coaching career when his time on the boards comes to an end.
But the convivial Irishmen lives in the here and now, relishing the opportunity to take part in a Six Day event and targeting selection for even more in the future.
“It’s incredible to be here in London – my voice went from the first night and I just love being here and chatting to people and the atmosphere is great,” he said.
“Being here has definitely whetted my appetite for more – I watched it on TV last year and it was amazing, so to be here is incredible.
“Unfortunately the Olympics in Tokyo is out of reach for me, but hopefully I can get picked for another couple of Six Day events going forward.”
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