Gearing up for Abu Dhabi

In exactly six months, the best triathletes in the world will line out on Copacabana beach to contest the most coveted prize in sport - an Olympic gold medal.

With Ireland hoping to qualify two athletes for the Rio games, we speak to High Performance coach Tommy Evans about the squad's ongoing preparations as they train in Aguillas, Spain.

Bryan Keane Aguillas on the Beach

Abu Dhabi

For Bryan Keane, Olympic year starts with the first ITU World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi on Saturday March 5th. Eight of the top ten men are already confirmed for the event, which is promising to be fiercely contested as it recreates conditions similar to those expected at the Rio Olympic Games in August.

Through a series of great performances throughout 2014 and 2015, Aileen Reid lies in 7th place on the Olympic qualification list and has secured her place for Rio. The picture for Bryan will become clearer over the coming weeks: he is currently on the cusp of a qualifying place but will need to earn in each of the ITU World Series races between Abu Dhabi and the closing of the qualification window in mid-May 2016 to guarantee a place.

Russel White Aquilas with Olympic Rings Cropped

Ready to Race

Technical Director for the High Performance squad, Tommy Evans said the focus for the camp, which also includes Elite squad member Russel White and Under 23 member Kieran Jackson has been getting everybody ready to race: "Right now for Bryan we are looking at a little bit more conditioning for race specific stuff. This weekend for instance we will be doing a duathlon out here so that will give us a little hit out and tell us how well things are going. The training that we have done so far, it's definitely on the upward spiral so everything looks good at the minute."

"The races are going to come thick and fast, especially for Bryan with Olympic qualification still up for the taking. At the minute he's sitting there in a slot, we want to put him in a comfortable position so the next month will be pretty important, a good score in Abu Dhabi would certainly ease a little bit of pressure for him."

Bryan, Russel and Michael Selfie Aguillas

Aileen Already Qualified

Tommy said Aileen Reid's race focus this season will naturally be on the Olympics: "Aileen has already qualified so it's a matter of keeping her fit and healthy and we have time on her side. The most important race for Aileen this year is in August and every other race up till then doesn't carry as much significance. Certainly it would be nice to see her on a podium, that would be the target, but it may be a little bit slower than we want, we have to take our time and make sure that she's in the right condition to go."

Live coverage of the ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi can be accessed through the Triathlon Live website. Keep an eye on Triathlon Ireland's twitter feed for updates from the race.