The streets of London were paved with gold and silver for Irish triathletes last week, with an early gold for age groupers Matt Molloy (40-44) in the aquathlon on Wednesday and silver for Deirdre Casey (30-34) in the sprint distance on Thursday.
Matt went back out on Sunday to take fourth spot in the standard distance, and Kevin Thornton took sixth in the 25-29 age group.
But it was Derry woman Aileen Reid who set the pulses racing in the grandstand as she graced her way into second position in the elite female standard distance event in a time of 2:01.57 – the highest position achieved by any Irish triathlete to date.
Coming out of the swim in 10th spot, she stayed with the lead pack through the tough cycle and out on to the run. Starting in ninth place for the 10k run behind race leader Non Stanford of Team GB, she had everything to play for as she tried to shake off the cold.
"I just told myself everyone else is cold, come on, you can do this. You're Irish, this is the weather you're used to. So I just kept running and realised I was in fourth position running with Jodie (Stimpson) and Moffy (Emma Moffatt)," she said.
"In the last lap I thought I could do it and put in a sprint finish to take second place."
Despite a 15-second penalty imposed on Stanford for a rule infringement, she continued to stretch out the lead to a comfortable World Championship Grand Final win in 2:01.32. Third place went to Moffatt of Australia, who led the 1,500m swim.
There were thrills and spills around the slippery 40k bike course as athletes kept the balance between speed and safety on the tight turns through Hyde Park. A consistent season for Aileen in eight events across four continents, including her second place in London, sees her advance to eighth overall position in this the final race. "There was huge support from Irish fans all around the course," she said.
Some 270 Irish athletes took part over five days of racing which finished with a near-photo finish in the elite men's race between series winner Javier Gomez of Spain (1:48.16) and Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain (1:48.17). Third place was Mario Mola of Spain (1:49.10). Bryan Keane was 27th after an impressive cycle.