In what is another first for triathlon in Ireland, Mayo youngster Con Doherty has claimed a bronze medal, earning his way onto the podium at the ITU Junior Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. The result is a breakthrough for the Westport teenager who is the current National Junior Champion.
Doherty exited the 750m swim in the Queens Wharf Harbour mid pack in the field of 75 junior men. His superior bike handling skills became instantly apparent as Doherty biked his way to the front of the field on the first of the four-laps, 20k bike course. Taking in a number of technical turns and challenging inclines around Auckland’s city centre, the course suited the fearless Doherty, who despite treacherous rain, set the pace for his competitors and led the race for the majority of the bike leg.
Heading out on the 5k run course in the lead, Doherty was overtaken by South African Wian Sullwald who stride ahead. Despite fighting off an attack from Frenchman Simon Viain for the majority of the run, Doherty was outsprinted in the final metres of the race to finish in a fantastic third place in a time of 1:01:59.
The result is a breakthrough for Doherty whose best result prior to today is a Top 10 at the European Cup level. One cannot help but think it is the first of many to come for the talented triathlete. Doherty is just 17, with two further years in the 16-19 year old junior category. In addition, Doherty is the first Irish junior, and indeed the first Irish triathlete to podium in a World Championship Series Final event.
Triathlon Ireland Performance Director Chris Jones was delighted with the result, saying “this is a fantastic performance from Con, and it comes well ahead of the 2014 target we had set for a Junior World Championship result such as this”. The result is a great achievement, and comes off the back of a great deal of development work that has been done by Triathlon Ireland and its coaching staff.
TI elite Aileen Morrison summed up the result well, tweeting “Guts, Balls, No Fear, No Brakes”. It was an apt description.