Ireland’s two Olympic hopefuls, Bryan Keane and Aileen Reid have claimed victory in the first Triathlon Ireland Super Series race of the season at the Firmus Energy City of Derry Triathlon.
With heavy training schedules in the run up to the Olympics in August, Keane and Reid were making their only domestic appearances of the season and spectators hoping to witness an exciting race were not disappointed with both athletes pushed by all the way in the draft-legal sprint distance triathlon.
THE MEN’S RACE
In the men’s race, Cork’s Chris Mintern emerged first out of the water, with a 7sec lead over the chasing pack of Harry Speers, Keane, Kieran Jackson and Darren Dunne. With Speers falling off the pace on the bike, the remaining four men soon formed a pack which held together for the first 10km for the 20km city circuit.
On lap 2 however, Keane broke clear of his rivals and headed out on the run with a 20sec advantage over teenager Darren Dunne who was followed closely by Jackson and Mintern. From there the race was in little doubt, with Keane running a 16min 5km to press home his advantage and win in a time of 57min 45secs.
With the performance of his career so far, Darren Dunne finished in 2nd place, running a 16min 30sec 5km to come home in 58 min 35secs. Kieran Jackson rounded out the podium by pulling clear of Mintern to take third place a further 27secs down.
Speaking after the race, Keane said he was happy with how things went: “It’s lovely to race at home, I don’t get to do it very often and Derry put on a great race. It’s great to have races like this in Ireland and some of those junior and under-23 athletes kept me honest, they kept me on my toes. I attacked them on the bike and they ended up having a great battle for 2nd and 3rd.”
As Ireland’s top ranked male athlete, Keane said there is a weight of expectation that he will win such races easily. But he added this can never be taken for granted: “It wasn’t easy, those young guys coming through want to beat me and that’s racing. I raced hard, I had to be clinical when I attacked them to be able to get away, but the boys went well and that’s what you want to see.”
REID WINS ON HOME TURF
In the women’s race, home favourite Aileen Reid emerged from the 750m swim neck-in-neck with development athletes Laura Wylie and Emma Sharkey but a quick transition saw her break clear and she completed the first lap of the 20km bike leg alone before being caught a group consisting of Sharkey, Ailbhe Carroll and Jemma Speers.
Once on the run however, Reid pulled clear to win with a time of 1:05:35. In 2nd place and 25secs back was Heather Foley, who put in a very impressive bike and run performance to come from far behind and overtake all but one of the front runners. Laura Tighe finished in third place, a further 38secs back.
REID: IT’S GREAT TO BE BACK
Reid, who grew up in Derry said afterwards it was fantastic to race at home: “This is where it all started for me so it’s great to be back. It’s a bit strange, I was nervous but it was exciting. Coming out of the swim Laura Wylie was right with me so I gave myself a couple of goals within the race. On the bike I was on my own for three quarters of it until I saw the girls coming and then I just focused on getting out of transition ahead of them and trying to work really hard on the first part of the run.”
“People think it’s a given that because you are an international athlete that you are just going to win but I knew that the likes of Emma (Sharkey) and Laura (Wylie) would be really fast on the swim and I was waiting for Heather Foley to come up on the bike, I knew she was a real, real threat so I was happy to just hold everyone off on the run.”
Reid will now shift her focus back to training, ahead of the Women’s Olympic final on August 20th: “I missed a bit of my winter training through illness but I am very happy to be back healthy and training hard. It’s exciting and nerve racking and all those things. I just want to get more training done and then we’ll be ready to go.”