Con-Quest

Con Doherty with Bike

High Performance Development athlete Con Doherty took a break from his studies at UCD this winter and moved to Australia to help bring his training and racing to the next level.

The 20-year-old made the progression from junior to senior elite ITU racing at the end of last year and recently competed in his first World Cup race in Mooloolaba, Australia.

In this first person piece, Con tells us about his winter's training and his plans for the rest of the race season in 2016.

Arrival

On the first of the new breaking dawn's, my confused brain jumped to an assumption that it was hearing the laughs of hysterical monkeys. There are no monkeys though, just my pair of unaccustomed ears; virgin to the call of the Kookabarra's on the old gum trees.

A mere couple of weeks was all that separated the birth of an idea to my arrival 'down under'. Utterly convicted to my cause, I researched, planned and considered everything that came to mind when making the decision on where in the world to go and Brisbane, Australia, came up trumps. I put my university degree, scholarship, and business startup on hold, kissed my parents farewell, and drove to the airport.

Con Doherty Wetsuit Solo

Frustration

I had just experienced a less-than-stellar and frustrating period in my young career; was I putting myself in a position that was best giving my dreams a fighting chance? I had started a safe, predictable and more certain journey, yet one that could ultimately compromise reaching my full potential in triathlon. When I came to realise this I decided I would much rather fail knowing that I did everything to achieve what I love, than to live doing anything lesser. The pain of quitting rather than failing is a much more haunting and deathly thought; I'm drawn to Dylan Thomas' words: "Do not go gentle into that good night.. Rage, rage against the dying of the light".

I'm fortunate that there are people around me that see the potential in me and want me to succeed as much as I do myself, though making decisions that involve big change can be daunting. You might have to go against the advice and opinion of many, whom at heart, may have your best intentions in mind, but don't entirely see your vision. And it's very likely that they will have many good reasons, on paper, for you to continue down the path you're on. In my mind, there is a simple logic that can overshadow all the possible points others could make; do you still feel the undying urge to change what you're doing? With the support of coaches, family and Red Bull, I chose to act on my unquenchable desire and to wholeheartedly pursue my passion.

Australia

I arrived in Australia on December 5th. On the 6th, I began training under Warwick Dalziel, 'Waz'; a bright, chilled and highly skilled triathlon coach, along with his group of very talented and highly driven athletes, whom in the process, have become some my best mates. Right off the bat, I felt comfortable and at ease, this is the setup I'd been searching for. The group, the professional atmosphere, the climate, the facilities; it works together harmoniously. Since arriving, my senior career has begun and is taking shape.

It'll take time before getting near the top, but a 4th and 9th place at 2 continental cups has thrown me up into the world rankings. I've made my debut at World Cup level in Mooloolaba, Australia. The result itself was disappointing, I ran unlike myself while my Isreali training partner; Ron Darmon, stuck it to the current world champion; Mario Mola, for 3 of the 5 kilometres. A 40th place didn't do me much justice, but putting a beginning to this next level is essential.

Con Doherty Mooloolaba

Returning

Now, as I board a plane at the end of my 4 month stay in Oz, I've developed a feeling of belonging to such a setup, similar to the feeling of what home is. It's difficult to maintain this when you're a young underdog in the sport. The national federation is restricted financially when distributing support throughout the entirety of high performance, but I have very little intention of letting myself fall back into anything dissimilar. As I climb up through the rankings and the results continue to follow and improve, keeping myself in this environment will become less of a struggle, but it will take as much help and support as I can get. I truly believe I have the potential to become the best in the world, if I didn't, I'd be devoting myself to something where I did see such potential.

I'll compete in my second World Cup in New Plymouth, New Zealand this Sunday 3rd April. From there, I'll head to Glasgow, Scotland, to race in RedBulls: Neptune Steps; a swim race with a twist! During the swim, there are eight gates that you must climb along the Caledonian Canal. I'm a sucker for trying new and diverse challenges that'll offer a good kick, but something tells me it won't be as easy as climbing out of the pool after a tough swim session...

Con Doherty Swim Squad Australia

The majority of the racing season will be based in Europe, the hub of ITU competition. With Coach Waz's squad, and a few more of the world's best, I'll be based in the Spanish Basque Country capital; Vitoria-Gasteiz, until September, before heading to the world championships in Cozumel, Mexico, upon qualification. There's lots of adventure and racing at the pinnacle of our sport to come.

To keep up to date on my conquest, find me on; Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, I won't disappoint, promise.

Slán go fóill,

Con.