Friday 30 September 2016

Reid has record books in sight while diving towards gold

Dave Hooper

Published 12/06/2015 | 02:30

Triathlete Aileen Reid
Triathlete Aileen Reid

Triathlete Aileen Reid seeks to make history this weekend as the first European games begin in the Azerbaijan capital Baku.

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On Saturday morning, 8.30am to be precise, Reid will dive into the water with the aim of becoming Ireland's very first European games medallist and triathlon's very first European games gold medal winner.

"It's a great addition to the calendar," said Reid of the Pat Hickey-devised European games. "Anything that promotes my sport is a good thing, as the sport has changed my life.

"It sits nicely for European athletes in the calendar as there is a break now until Hamburg" - on July 18 - "the next leg of the World Series" explained Reid.

The 32-year-old's form has clicked into gear just as the opening of the inaugural games take place, entering Baku 2015 as the highest entrant on the International Triathlon Unions World rankings of the 51 entrants.

Two weeks ago Reid grabbed fourth place at the London Grand Prix, progressing to sixth spot in the World rankings, six places ahead of the next European -Dutch athlete Rachel Klamer who she'll face in Baku.

Reid's season has progressed nicely, 24th place in Abu Dhabi on March 6 in her season opener, improving to 15th in Auckland three weeks later, the following three races have seen top 10 finishes.

"European athletes are taking it seriously," admitted Reid. "The gold and silver medallists from the London Olympics are taking the start line (Switzerland's Nicola Spring and Sweden's Lisa Norden).

"Like any championships winning medals is never easy."

Reid entered the London Olympics three years ago, ranked as one of the top 10 females.

But it was tinged with disappointment, finishing 24th after a crash on the bike, and dashed hopes of an Olympic medal.

Reid bounced back in 2013, taking silver at the World triathlon final in London the following September, and finishing eighth in the final World ranking.

Recovery was the name of the game in 2014, after a back injury in November 2013, which ruled out winter training for the Derry woman, the most important training block for any triathlete.

Determination and persistence made all the difference to produce a mirror image final standing in the ITU world rankings, taking fifth in the World final in Edmonton, Canada and repeating her eighth place overall finish.

The qualified PE teacher is buoyed by a strong running leg, the final and decisive leg for triathletes, clocking 34.44 for the 10k lap in Yokohama on May 16, taking sixth in the final standings.

The sprint triathlon in London two weeks ago was just final preparation for Reid. "It feels like it's coming together for me".

Irish Independent

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