Eight members of the Junior High Performance Squad made their way to Wales this weekend for the highly competitive Portcawl Youth & Junior Triathlon. Some 70 boys and 30 girls battled it out over a super sprint distance on the 4th leg of the British Triathlon Super Series.
The Irish squad performed well in hot conditions with Elena (High Performance Assistant Coach) commenting on how pleased she was that all the athletes dealt very well with a rough swim. The numerous hours spent in the pool every week are certainly paying off here.
Christopher Mintern was 1st of the Irish boys home, taking 7th place overall in what was an extremely close contest. Just 50 seconds separated the top 10 boys with Mintern completing the course in 30:33, 29 seconds behind the winner.
Mintern was followed soon after by Aron O’Brian (16th Overall), Conor Rooney (17th Overall), Con Dotherty (18th Overall), Kieran Jacksion (28th Overall/9th Youth) and Stephen Rooney (47th Overall/15th Youth)
In the girls field Emma Sharky
was 1st of the Irish in 16th place overall with Maedbh
Hurst just 18 seconds behind in 19th overall and 10th youth.
Well done to all the athletes who competed over the weekend.
Full results can be found here
A full race report writen by Chris Mintern is shown below.
I arrived in Dublin Airport at 1pm on Friday with the rest of the team and we headed for Cardiff. Despite only being across the water, the weather in Wales was fantastic and only encouraged the need for flowery shorts. After quickly assembling the bikes we went to find a place to eat and while walking through the streets of Porthcawl we were met by plenty of staring eyes due to the fact we were all wearing our Team Ireland tops. The atmosphere was good amongst the team and this was helped by the incredibly humorous jokes from Con Doherty. We had an early nights rest because of the travelling that day.
The following morning we went for a cycle around the bike course and it was very flat with a dead turn on each of the three laps. The run was undulating and it was an 'out and back' course. We also went for a swim around the pier where the race would take place and the water was warm. So the course familiarization was out of the way and the only thing left was the big race. After lunch we went to register and it was like a scene from a movie when we arrived and all the British heads turned in our direction surprised to see us. The only thing we were missing was the music. The race pack was great and also it was unusual to see that there were over 70 boys entered in a junior race considering that there would only be three athletes in the junior category for a race at home. Then it was straight to an Italian restaurant for my favourite pre-race meal, Spaghetti Bolognaise :)
The atmosphere was rather tense for the remainder of the night because our minds were focusing on the race. After hours of race visualisation I eventually got to sleep only to be woken again at 5am for an early start to race day. Breakfast was fine and everything was in order for a good race just like it should be. After another inspirational speech from Stephen Delaney & Stephen Teeling Lynch we were pumped and ready for the race. A lot more happens in transition than what you might imagine, it’s where people are typically judged based on their kit and also how comfortable they look in setting up transition. I stuck to my usual routine, cycling shoes on, elastics on, helmet on bike, running shoes out. I ran through transition just to make sure that I understood the route, and then turned my back and walked away happy that I had set up transition the way I wanted it.
The race briefing was another judgement event as people eyed each other up. Nothing exciting happened at this briefing but everything was explained clearly and we were happy that we knew what was going on. The Woman’s Youth & Junior Race was first which included Irelands Emma Sharkey and Meadbh Hurst. We cheered them on whenever possible and it was good to see the girls fighting amongst the other athletes which I think helped us knowing that we were going to be doing the same thing shortly. The swim warm up was tense and all 70 something of us were looking for which would be the best position. I hung back just before the final briefing of the swim course so that I could get a good position for the swim. And we were off. The Irish athletes were Aaron O Brien, Conor Rooney, Stephen Rooney, Con Doherty, Kieran Jackson and I. The usual scraps and fights took place and I tried to be more aggressive having learned from my experience at the Europeans in Spain. The first buoy was only 100m away and trying to fit 70 athletes around this buoy would naturally involve intense contact which of course it did! But I was happy to be out of the water in around 15th Place and I could see Aaron and Conor ahead of me but I knew that they were strong swimmers.
Transition was swift and it was straight into 40km/hr on the bike. Within a kilometre on the bike the pack contained myself, Aaron, Conor as well as several British athletes. It was a good feeling knowing that there were other Irish athletes in the group. A couple of words were exchanged on the bike with regards to who was working and who wasn't but let’s just say I was quite content to smile back at them and so were the rest of us. The pace was wicked and my sun glasses stayed in my helmet for the duration of the race. After a slow T2 I ran out of transition in about 15th place. I knew that my running was going strong recently and I was happy to catch athletes early in the run, after passing Aaron (only coming back from Illness) I caught a couple more British athletes who seemed surprised to see an Irish athlete run past them .Later in the run I was next to Conor and we were shoulder to shoulder with some more British athletes and I tried to push the pace because I knew the run was so short. At the turn around point, I counted and saw that I was in 10th Place. In my head I was thinking only 9 more places; however, my body was telling me that top ten is fine.
I passed more athletes on the run towards the finish and was content with 5th junior. The whole team did extremely well and I think we might have upset the British athletes who thought we were there just to make up the numbers. It’s also worth mentioning that at this race we beat people who destroyed us last year and this shows what can happen in 12 months so I'm looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen in the next 12 months. Chris Jones was also there to watch the race. (You know it’s important when Chris is around) The coaches seemed happy with our performances and so we left Porthcawl that day as a happy Team Ireland.