Lara Gillespie has taken an unusual route to elite cycling, but the Enniskerry 21-year-old now has a crystal clear focus on her ultimate ambition as she prepares for the Track World Championships in Paris.

The 2021 U-23 European Championship silver medallist won two stages in last month's Rás na mBan and is the youngest member of the six-woman team selected for the Worlds, wich take place from 12 to 16 October. Kelly Murphy, Emily Kay, Mia Griffin, Alice Sharpe and Orla Walsh complete the lineup.

Gillespie's first love was hockey - she represented Leinster - but she was also a very talented runner and was selected to represent her country at the 2017 Youth Olympics before a broken elbow changed her path.

"I was in fourth year, TY [transition year] at school," Gillespie told RTÉ 2fm's Game On.

"I was still paying hockey and stuff but I ended up breaking my elbow. I was going to go to the Youth Olympics for running. Then I said, 'I'll try to do the selection for cycling'. I got in, got a medal there [she won time trial silver] and kind of thought, 'okay, I should keep doing this'."

Her natural ability is obvious but Gillespie - who has a degree in health and performance science from UCD - has also endured her fair share of setbacks. Illness has disrupted her progress over the last two years, and yet she's still had success.

Her performance at the recent Rás was a major boost, one which Gillespie hopes gives her the momentum to stay on an upward curve.

"It was class," she said. "We had a great week. I was really happy I could deliver and had the legs. My form is now coming around after a few rough years."

Ireland are currently training in Mallorca, their base for the last few years due to the fact Ireland does not yet have an indoor velodrome.

"I've been here ten days or so, I'm here for another five or so days before I travel to Paris," added Gillespie.

"Between road racing and track, you're kind of never at home. You're not around you family, your loved ones or friends. It's a factor that other people wouldn't think about, but we are grateful that we have this opportunity.

"[A velodrome] would be a huge asset to us if we had that. We could knuckle down on l the little small parts that we are maybe lacking right now. The track in Mallorca is such a life saver for us."

Reflecting on her ultimate goals, Gillespie said: "The Worlds and Olympics are both top of the level, we'll be competing with the same people.

"I'm over [my illness] now and I'm delighted to be over it. I feel so much physically and mentally stronger than I was before. I think the rest has done me well. I missed out on a lot.

"It was a hard time physically and mentally as well. Those things only make you stronger. Hopefully that's my bad luck out of the way."