2014 Review 2014 Triathlon ReviewIt is incredible to think that our young sport of triathlon has experienced yet another year of double digit growth and is continuing to develop and progress at pace.2014 saw membership increase for the 9th year in a row by 15.5% to 9772, while there were 15,000 One Day Licences provided throughout the season.190 events were sanctioned by Triathlon Ireland during the year, with safety plans painstakingly reviewed by a team of volunteer officials and a minimum of two technical officials present on the day. For this reason TI’s sanctioning process is seen as the benchmark among National Governing Bodies. We also celebrated the 30th anniversary of ‘Hell of the West’ in Kilkee, run by Limerick Triathlon Club, which hosted the Standard Distance National Championships.On the theme of events, 2014 saw the establishment of a technical committee, tasked with the review of rules and officiating at sanctioned races. This was a key topic of conversation of our now regular provincial meetings and one that we at Triathlon Ireland were keen to address. A huge amount of work also went into the development of a new events structure which will see triathlon well set to thrive over the coming years at all levels of competition.The number of clubs has also increased in 2014, up by 8 to 84. They are located all across the island of Ireland and are now supported by a dedicated team of regional development officers. These positions were another fantastic development for TI who are determined to develop triathlon at the grass roots level. Our team of development officers have been meeting clubs, setting up junior sections, new clubs, running training days and schools programmes to name but a few and are active around the country each weekend.High PerformanceAnother success story this year has been the growth in the strength in depth of our high performance athletes. The youth and junior squad grew from 6 athletes in 2013 to 17 in 2014 and we’re seeing the standard increase also. A number of athletes progressed from the junior ranks to elite U23 during the year, the first to come through TI’s performance pathway. This follows years of continued investment and focus on developing the next generation of elite triathletes and Olympians. In order to continue the upward trend TI gained funding for and subsequently recruited a high performance coach to head up the Limerick HP centre.In the senior ranks, long distance triathlete Eimear Mullen’s number of race wins ran into double figures and that saw her voted as the Athlete of the Year at the Annual Awards Evening. On the ITU circuit Aileen Reid got off to a slow start but as the season progressed so did her results and she finished with a 5th at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final and 8th in the world rankings.As for the men we now have three (Bryan Keane, Conor Murphy and Ben Shaw) with a possible fourth (Russell White) in the top 140 of the ITU rankings and as such potentially eligible for selection for the Rio Olympic Games. We would hope to secure two slots for the men along with 1 for the women, something never before achieved by Triathlon Ireland.While not sitting under High Performance, TI restarted the Regional Junior Academy which acts as a feeder area for young talent and with over 375 athletes attending the training days we are building our strength in depth. Paratriathlon2014 was an exciting year for Paratriathlon in Ireland after it was previously announced that it would form part of the Paralympic Games in Rio 2016. In order to capitalize on this opportunity Triathlon Ireland appointed a Paratriathlon High Performance Coach but also a paratriathlon participation manager tasked with pushing the development of paratriathlon at grassroots level. Our target for 2016 is to get at least one athlete on the start line but by 2020 to have a programme developing athletes in parallel with the high performance programme. Progress has already been seen at both grass roots and a high performance level with a number of information and open days being held throughout 2014 and a push to gain funding for this new area. Coach EducationCoaching too has seen some really positive developments with more courses, and a new Leader qualification scheduled for early 2015. A programme of continual professional development has been put together and is set to roll of throughout 2015, while a Level 3 course, in line with ITU qualifications is currently being written and set to launch in late 2016. Developing high performing coaches is not only good for our top athletes but all triathletes and as such coaching is a key priority for TI.Coach Education also received a huge boost in 2014 with the addition of new sponsors Udo’s Choice, now supporting the coach education programme. With the support of Udo’s Choice and a dedicated team of tutors now in place, Coach Education is set to make big progress in 2015.Women in SportTriathlon Ireland ran a very successful Women in Sport programme in 2014 which saw an additional 637 female members, increasing TI’s female membership from 28% up to 31.2%. Particularly pleasing, there were an additional 338 female members under 18 years which is a huge positive as we strive towards 40% female membership.On the coaching front there are now 56 female coaches in the process of gaining qualification, up 25% on 2013 and an additional 12 female Technical Officials. CommercialTriathlon Ireland is fortunate to have some fantastic sponsors including our long time title sponsors Vodafone Ireland. Their support has been key to the development of triathlon since 2010.With limited government funding, commercial partnerships are vital for Triathlon Ireland if we are to achieve the ambitions set out in our strategic plan.In 2014, Triathlon Ireland acquired two new commercial partners. Renault Ireland were welcomed as the Official Vehicle of Triathlon Ireland while Udo’s Choice became sponsors of the Coach Education programme.In another boast for the sport, TI were successful with our Capital Grant application and received €160,000 for participation and high performance equipment. Outperforming many similar and larger sized NGB’s in the process, this funding will go to use to help the grassroots of the sport and initiatives being run through the year such as training days, junior sessions, talent ID and much more. Four clubs (Athy, Active Multisport, Midlands and Racing 795) also received funding totalling €32,406.