Ireland’s top ranked triathlete Aileen Reid kept Irish fans on the edge of their seats as she sprinted down the blue carpet in London’s World Triathlon Series Grand Final to claim the silver medal.
The result marks Ireland’s best ever finish and one that Aileen has been building towards for the past few years.
The London Olympian got off to a good start as she powered through the opening few hundred meters of the 1500 meter swim. The leading swimmer reached halfway in 9:18 with Aileen a matter of seconds behind in 5th place.
Over the second 750m lap the pace was cranked up yet again by Aussie athlete Emma Moffatt who began to split the field behind. World number 2 Anne Haug was having a nightmare in the Serpentine Lake as she became distanced from the group, having to battle on alone.
By the end of the 1500 meters it was Moffatt who emerged first in 18mins 43secs with Aileen close behind in 10th. Her quick swimming along with a slick bike mount meant Aileen got up to speed quickly and settled into the leading pack.
Anne Haug who was harbouring World Title hopes was over 2 minutes down, however team orders saw fellow German Anja Knapp sent back to perform domestique duties. The drama continued as another World Title hopeful, Gwen Jorgensen came down hard on a greasy Hyde Park corner. Bleeding and scared she too battled on for a stage but was forced to withdraw before the end of the 40km bike leg.
The greasy road conditions were at the fore of the athlete’s minds as they tried to negotiate the tight turns while keeping the pace high enough to hold the chasers at bay. Lining the streets were some of the 266 Irish Age Group athletes competing over the weekend along with thousands more Irish fans.
“There was so much Irish support for the Olympics and again here today, there were Irish flags everywhere along the course.” Aileen commented.
By the time they reached the second transition there were 21 women in contention. Aileen moved through transition swiftly and charged out onto the 10km run in 16th position. Non Stanford and Sarah Groff were a few meters up the road but Aileen pushed the pace trying to bridge up to the leading runners.
By the end of lap 1 she was heading a group of six as they chased down Stanford and Groff up the road. Great Britain’s Non Stanford was in superb running form and stretched her lead as the kilometres clocked off. Despite having to serve a 15 second time penalty for a transition infringement she was never going to be caught and went on to take her second World Series win in a time of 2:01:32.
Behind Sarah Groff of the USA was fading fast and losing her grasp on second place. Firstly Emma Moffett bridged up to Groff and looked to be on course for silver; next Jodie Stimpson pulled her back and looked to be running strongly despite the pain etched on her face. Finally Aileen timed her push to perfection and stretched the elastic between herself and training mate Jodie Stimpson in the final fifty meters to claim silver in 2:01:57.
“I was running with Jodie and Moffy and I just through how am I staying here? I felt good and saw I got a wee bit of a gap on Jodie so I just pushed more and more to see if I could get a medal.”
“I’m totally delighted with 2nd place… it’s amazing.”
Aileen has been there or thereabouts all season finishing 8th, 9th, 12th on two occasions and 17th on two occasions in the World Triathlon Series.
“I’ve been consistent all year but that result was just the icing on the cake.” Aileen told reporters at the finish line.
The result also sees Aileen move up 3 places to finish 8th in the 2013 World Triathlon Series, her previous best being 17th in 2012.
1:30pm on Sunday sees another Irish hopeful, Bryan Keane from Cork compete in the Elite Men’s Grand Final. Watch it live on BBC2 or triathlonlive.tv