AILEEN MORRISON SIGNALLED her intent for the London Olympics by recording her best ever finish in Madrid.
The Derry woman came second in an ultra competitive field in hot and testing condition.
Despite the silver grade, Morrison will still eye room for improvement as her swim was less competitive than normal.
That can be put down to it being classed as ‘non-wetsuit’ – giving specialists an advantage – in 26° waters.
At the halfway point of the first leg she found herself in 35th place, but soon found a rhythm and emerged form the water in 26th.
The bike also cost her time and Morrison admitted disappointment at the changeover which cost her 12 second.
However, once on solid ground, the 20-year-old really came into her own.
“Luckily they were running at a nice steady pace at the front and I just slowly made my way there.” Said Morrison, adding:
“I tried to push it on a wee bit and thought we might lose a couple of people and it’ll make it easier when I get to the last lap.”
Morrison led the field with Switzerland’s Nicola Sprig and Nicola Sprig Chilean, Barbara Riveros Diaz sitting in behind. But when Sprig kicked on, Morrison had to persevere to hold off the South American.
“In that last 800 meters I just thought I would finish 4th. My legs were like jelly. I can’t believe I manage to hold on for 2nd, I’m really delighted with that.” Morrison told reports at the finish line.
Morrison’s coach, and triathlon Ireland’s high performance direct, Chris Jones underlined the impressive nature of Morrison’s effort during the run,
“Sprig and Diaz are two of the best sprinters in the sport so for Aileen to come away with 2nd is an incredible performance.” Beamed Jones, “She’s in a great position looking forward to London.”
Second at this level of competition is the best result ever from an Irish triathlete.
Competing in the men’s event today, Gavin Noble will hope to replicate Morrison’s achievement and book his pace in London.