THE NATIONAL GOVERNING BODY FOR TRIATHLON IN IRELAND The International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, comprising the World Championship Series Grand Final, will be held in Budapest, Hungary, this weekend 11-12 September 2010.

Triathlon Ireland is proud to have a team of 5 elite and 120 age group (sub-elite) athletes competing in the event.

In another first for the development of the sport in Ireland, it is the first time Triathlon Ireland have qualified an elite team for the event. The World Championships is a prestigious event that attracts an Olympic Games standard field, including the who’s who of the international triathlon scene. As such, qualification is no mean feat.

All eyes will be on Derry’s Aileen Morrison, who is a serious contender for a top 10 finish, following her 5th place finish at the ITU European Championships in Athlone in July and her 3rd place in Rd 5 of the World Championship Series in Hamburg recently.

Speaking following the elite athlete briefing in Budapest today, Morrison expressed her anxious excitement about the event, which involves a split transition format (where T1 and T2 are in different locations): "I’m really excited about this course; it will be interesting to see how having two different transition areas will work, especially because in T2 athletes aren’t given the opportunity to lay their equipment; it is all placed in a box and delivered to T2 by race officials. But this will be the case for all athletes so while it’s unfamilar, it will be unfamiliar for all of us".

Beijing Olympian Emma Davis has had a very solid 2010 race season and will be hoping to continue her improving form this weekend. Based on current ITU simulated rankings both Davis and Morrison, along with Corkman Bryan Keane, have sufficient points that would secure them a spot at the London 2012 Games if the qualification period were to end today. Unfortunately it is nearly two years until Olympic qualification concludes. The challenge until then is to continue performing on the ITU circuit to ensure their rankings are maintained.

Triathlon Ireland High Performance Director Chris Jones is optimistic about the weekend of racing ahead: "This year there have been so many performances from Triathlon Ireland athletes that are above and beyond our goals and expectations. If you had said to me 12 months ago that we would have a team of 5 elites racing in the World Championships in Budapest and Aileen Morrison was a realistic chance of a Top 10 finish I quite possibly would not have believed you". “We are well ahead of our Irish Sports Council and Sport Northern Ireland performance funding targets”.

Triathlon Ireland will be well represented by talented juniors in the Junior Elite Mens and Womens races. Fresh from a gold medal in the World Aquathlon Championships earlier this week, Ben Shaw will be hoping for an improvement on his last Hungarian outing, 5th place in the ITU European Cup race in Tiszaujvaras last month.

Laura Casey will be hoping to build on her impressive 9th place at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore recently. It is clear from reading her account of her Youth Olympic journey that Casey has a new appreciation of what it takes to perform on the world stage. After sweeping the floor in a number of recent domestic races, up and comer Russell White will be keen to forget the disappointment of crashing on the bike in the European Championships in Athlone and will be keen to assert himself among the best Elite Junior Men the world has to offer. White was fortunate to get a wildcard for the event.

"It is such a great team atmosphere out here" Triathlon Ireland CEO Matt McKerrow said yesterday. "With a team comprising 120 age groupers, our junior development athletes and our elites it really does give a sense of what Triathlon Ireland is all about; providing opportunities and support to athletes of all levels of ability and motivation". "We are ably supported by some very hard-working team managers and coaches who have done a fantastic job already to ensure athletes are ready, prepared and informed ahead of the weekend’s races".

Age Groupers in Focus
In addition the elite athletes, Triathlon Ireland has a team of nearly 120 age group (sub-elite) athletes competing in the World Championships.

The age group racing scene has exploded in Ireland, with more than 800 athletes representing Ireland in various triathlons internationally in 2010.