A never say die attitude paid off for Olympic hopeful Aileen Morrison taking 2nd place in the first ITU European Cup of the season in Quarteira, Portugal at the weekend.
Morrison exited the 1500m swim in 11th position just 24 seconds down on the leaders. “I got really beat up in the swim and a few girls just caught a wave into shore ahead of me.” Morrison said.
The narrow advantage from the swim was enough to make the task a whole lot more difficult for Ireland’s top triathlete. The lead group of 5 made their slim advantage stick and worked well to grow it over the 40km bike leg.
Morrison worked hard on the front of a 3 woman chase pack to limit the damage however they were eventually joined by a further 20 athletes from a 3rd chase pack. Entering T2 they were almost a minute down on the 5 ahead meaning a podium finish looked almost impossible.
A slick 30 second transition from bike to run, the fastest of the day meant the Derry native led the charge out of transition. Triathlon Ireland Assistant Coach Elena Maslova was impressed with Morrison’s run form. “When Aileen exited T2 you knew she only had one thing on her mind. She covered the first few kilometers incredibly fast and moved from 7th up to 3rd by the 2.5km mark.”
Morrison continued her charge picking off Peon of France in the process to snatch 2nd place and build excitement about her prospects for the season ahead.
“I’m really pleased with how Aileen turned it around. The swim was very physical and she got a little bit beaten up so to bike hard in the chase pack and pull out a 35 minute 10k at the end of it all is very impressive.” commented Triathlon Ireland High Performance Director Chris Jones.
Ainhoa Murua of Spain held on to win 27 seconds ahead of Morrison with Carole Peon of France in 3rd a further 16 seconds back.
Later in her own Blog on aileenmorrison.com , Aileen explained more about this regrettable incident, to her own followers:
“At the race I was called to the start line first and got a good cheer from the crowd. When the horn went I got a good start but after a few hundred meters a girl swam on top of me a few times and then grabbed my hat and dunked me. I was outraged so I grabbed her back! Girls racing is notorious for bitchiness but this was silly – it wasn’t helpful for she or I.
I panicked a bit and lost ground on a group of 5 girls who got away. I ended up in a second pack on the bike doing a lot of hard work to try to catch up to no avail. Once onto the run I was a full 60seconds behind the leaders for the 10k run. But on the first lap I caught 3 of them! Then the number 3 ranked athlete Carol Peon of France on the last lap, but unfortunately not the Spaniard Anoua Moura. Silver in my first race, but also an amazing run after getting beaten up in the swim”.
Listen to BBC Northern Ireland’s Radio Interview with Aileen here