Triathlon Ireland will send its largest ever team to the ITU World Triathlon Championships in London from the 11th– 15th of September.
The 277 strong team is made up of senior elite triathletes Aileen Reid and Bryan Keane, U23 elite Russell White, Junior elites Emma Sharkey, Chris Mintern and Aaron O’Brien, paratriatletes Nicolas Dewalque, Michael Delaney, Mark Phillips and Denton Howard along with 267 Age Group triathletes.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar met with the team as they prepared to leave Dublin: “I wish the team the very best of luck in the World Championships and I know they are going to do us proud. Ireland is making huge progress in triathlon and it’s a great achievement to be sending our largest ever team.”
Aileen Reid, currently ranked 11th in the World Triathlon Series goes into the Grand Final confident that her preparations are on the right track. “I have been training at altitude in Morzine, France with my training group.”
“My family and some friends will be there in London to watch and I hope to put right my dreadful past experiences with the London course where I’ve crashed twice including last year in the Olympics.”
Aileen currently lies just 30 points off the top 10 of the World Triathlon Series and with bumper points on offer for London’s Grand Final a good result could see her break into that golden group.
As for Cork man Bryan Keane many would have bet against him ever returning for a World Series Grand Final after a serious bike crash almost put him out of the sport for good. Keane has had an impressive return to form this season picking up some top results including Ireland’s first male World Cup podium.
This silver medal along with a host of top 10 finishes gave Keane a ticket to the Grand Final alongside 68 of the top elite triathletes in the world.
“I’ve been racing for almost 16 straight months in order to get my ranking back up but I’m in the best form across all 3 disciplines I’ve been all season.”
“We have a huge Irish team travelling to London so it’s great to have vocal support like that when you’re racing. I hope I can give them something to shout about in my race on Sunday.”
Along with Aileen and Bryan, the next generation of Irish triathletes will be sampling racing at the top level. U23 athlete Russell White is a noted swimmer and will be hoping to post a quick opening 1500m swim in order to make the lead bike pack. White had a difficult early season after picking up a calf injury however his fitness may be peaking at just the right time.
Triathlon Ireland’s Technical Director Tommy Evans is confident the squad will perform well. “Everyone has been improving as the season goes on and they are well prepared for the challenge that London poses.”
In the junior ranks 2012 World Bronze medallist Con Doherty has been ruled out due to a shoulder injury. The absence of the Westport teenager is a blow for the team as he has been in good form this season picking up a number of podium finishes. The mantle will now be taken up by teammates Chris Mintern and Aaron O’Brien. Mintern from Cork is the current Intervarsity National Champion and took silver in Athlone behind Doherty. He will be joined on the start line by Aquathlon National Champion Aaron O’Brien from Limerick.
Mintern and O’Brien are strong swimmers and will be hoping to give themselves a chance of a top 20 finish by exiting the water near the head of the field and settling into one of the leading bike packs.
In the Junior Women’s race Emma Sharkey will be lining up for the first time at a World Championships. As with many of Triathlon Ireland’s Junior Squad athletes, Sharkey is an accomplished swimmer and will be expected to push the pace early on. Sharkey has been training in Leeds with many of Team GB’s top juniors so she is no stranger to racing against the best in the world. Many of the world’s best have struggled to keep up with the Belfast teenage during the bike leg so she will be looking to capitalise on this and try to break away in order to gain an advantage starting the run.
With Paratriathlon now part of the Olympic program for Rio 2016, Triathlon Ireland were delighted to have a team representing Ireland at a World Championships for the first time. Nicolas Dewalque and Michael Delaney will compete in the visually impaired categories of Tri 6a and 6b while Mark Phillips and Denton Howard compete in the arm impairment category of Tri 4. They will face stiff competition from the home nation who boast a number of past European and World Champions.
Triathlon Ireland CEO Chris Kitchen sees paratriathlon as a major growth area over the coming years. “It offers a fantastic opportunity for Ireland to win medals in Rio. Triathlon Ireland are keen to develop this area and we are holding a paratriathlon talent ID day alongside our next junior talent ID Day on the 24th of November. The Paratriathlon World Championships will have 200 athletes competing and it’s always an incredible spectacle.”
Along with the team of elite athletes, triathlon is unique in many ways as 267 Age Groupers or non professional triathletes will compete in the various 5 year bands from the age of 16 to 90 years old. In a mark of how competitive the Vodafone National Series and Kinetica National Championships are, Ireland boost a strong chance of medals in a number of the categories. Kevin Thornton picked up the European Age Group title back in June and is hoping to surprise himself with another podium result in London while the likes of Vanessa Fenton in the 40-44yrs AG or Marie Boland in the 25-29yrs AG may also fancy their chances of a podium finish.
Details of the Paratriathlon Team Here
Details of the Age Group Team Here
|Wednesday 11 September|
|Aquathlon – Elite||09:00|
|Thursday 12 September|
|Junior Women World Championships||08:00|
|Junior Men World Championships||10:00|
|U23 Women World Championships||12:00|
|U23 Men World Championships||15:00|
Friday 13 September
|Sprint Distance Age-Group World Championships||08:00|
Saturday 14 September
Sunday 15 September
|Standard Distance Age-Group World Championships||07:00|