Ireland’s two Olympic-bound triathletes, Aileen Reid and Bryan Keane have declared themselves ready for the Rio Games.
With the 2016 Olympics just over seven weeks away, Reid and Keane are about to depart Ireland for their final preparation races and training camps before they arrive in Rio in August.
The pair will spend much of the coming weeks training at altitude in Font Romeau in the French Pyrenees, coming down to sea level just twice to race at the Stockholm World Series triathlon on July 2nd; and as part of a two-man-two-woman Irish team in the Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg a fortnight later.
Just before the games, Reid and Keane will head to Florida for their holding camp where they will acclimatise to conditions similar to those of Rio.
Reid, who is ranked among the top athletes in the world, had a disappointing London Games, when a crash at the start of the 40km bike leg left her with little chance of achieving her ambition to be among the medal contenders.
This time around, the Derry-woman says she is older and wiser. “I know that I am capable of being among the top ten because that’s my average over the past three years but that’s not to say I am not capable of better. Rio is going to be an amazing place to have a race, we did the test event at Copacabana last year, it’s a fantastic, hard course that will be a true aswim-bike-run test.”
“People assume it’s exciting to be at the Olympics and it is, but it’s also nerve wracking and scary. It’s all those things but I know when I get there I will be relaxed because I will have done all the work and I am definitely looking forward to it.”
For Bryan Keane, qualifying for the games is the culmination of a six year battle that has seen him live out of a suitcase for years and overcome a life threatening injury.
The 35-year-old was on track to qualify for the London Games when, in late 2010 he was knocked off his bicycle by a car and shattered his knee cap. The accident meant he had to watch the Olympics while undergoing intensive rehabilitation on an injury that would have ended many athletic careers.
Keane only secured his place for the Rio Games in May, on the very last day of qualification. He had to finish inside the top 20 at an ITU World Cup race at Yokohama, Japan and beat two of his rivals from Hungary and Austria to be sure of qualification – a feat he achieved with one of his career best performances.
Bryan Keane said the long and sometimes bumpy road to Rio has makes him more determined to do his country proud at the Games.
“This is the fulfilment of a life long ambition, it’s the highlight of any athlete’s sporting career.
Following my injury, I didn’t know whether I would get back of not but I said to myself that I would do everything to make sure I could.”
Rio’s triathlon course, which begins and ends at Fort Copacabana beside the world famous beach, promises to deliver one of the most exciting events of the Games with a rough ocean swim, a hard and hilly bike course and a pancake flat 10km run that will take competitors along a sea front circuit.
Keane believes the course suits will play to his strengths. “The Rio course is really tough, it’s more about power which suits me. The Olympics is different to other races because the field will be smaller. It’s a huge honour to represent Ireland, there have been so few athletes that have made it to the Games. But I don’t want to make up the numbers, the next two months will all be about getting the right performance on the day so I can finish as close to the podium as I can.”
The men’s final at the Olympic Games takes place on August 18th with the women’s final taking place on August 20th.