Home News Aileen Morrison 22nd in Debut

Aileen Morrison 22nd in Debut


from T.I Aileen Morrison competes with World’s top triathletes with 22nd place in World Championships Series Debut
Aileen Morrison had another fantastic debut performance, this time in the first World Championships Series race in Tongyeong, South Korea. Aileen put in a career best performance, so far, finishing twenty second in a world class field.

On Saturday, 2 May, Aileen Morrison made her debut in the ITU World Championships Series (WCS) and placed 22nd in a world class field. The WCS is a new concept in triathlon, and was announced on the wave of popularity for triathlon as a spectator sport following the success of the Beijing Olympic Triathlon. Entry to the series is open to the top tier of athletes, ensuring that the world’s triathlon stars regularly compete head to head. The World Champion is now crowned as the person who has accumulated the most points in the series, rather than the athlete crossing the line first in the final race.

Aileen has has a meteoric rise to this level of racing and qualification for this standard was not foreseen this early, but has come about because of the programmes put in place by Triathlon Ireland head coach Chris Jones, and a hard winter’s work by Aileen and her support team at the Sports Institute Northern Ireland. Aileen put in an excellent performance in an early season European race that put her in contention to qualify for the first race of the WCS in Tongyeong in South Korea this weekend. Aileen’s start position, 43rd in a field of 48 was representative of her relative inexperience at this level, her only previous experience at World level was an end of season World Cup in France. The field contained 22 qualifiers for the Beijing triathlon, including the Gold and Bronze medalists from Australia, Emma Snowsill, and Emma Moffatt. Aileen and assistant coach Mark Dempsey, didn’t seem to be daunted by the magnitude of what they were embarking on and made good pre-race preparations and Aileen lined up with the 48 other women, ready to compete with the world’s best on Saturday.

From the gun the race was going to be hard. American swim-specialist Sara McLarty put in a strong burst and the swim field strung out early. Aileen was swimming well on the first lap of the two lap swim, but going wide to avoid choppy water on the final bhouy she fell back slightly. The lead was extended by McLarty on the second lap, with only Moffatt (AUS) and Swallow (GBR) able to go with her. The two leaders had over 30 seconds to the chasers on exit of the swim. Aileen exited with a good swim, but around a minute down on the lead.

The Tongyeong bike lap was tough with several hills and the wind was still fairly strong. Following transition Aileen found herself in the second pack and in a strong position for the bike leg, but was dropped at the hill, a strong effort in the swim leaving her unable to respond to strong climbing from the other in the pack. Aileen joined the third pack, finding herself in the company of 10th place Olympian Debbie Tanner (NZL). At the front, McLarty was unable to match Moffatt’s strong climbing ability, rather than go it alone Moffatt decided to fall back and work with the main pack. The main pack now numbered 25 women. Several of the stronger cyclists Harrison (FRA), and 2008 World Champion Jenkins (GBR) tried to attack off the front of the newly formed lead pack, but each break-away attempt was countered, showing the increased standard of women’s triathlon cycling, and also how much prize money was at stake both in bike primes and total prizes. Aileen cycled well in the second pack, working hard to hold the aggressive pace as they began to close the gap to the lead pack. Aileen has made great gains in her cycling, doing regular monitored sessions on the SRM under the monitoring of Sports Institute Northern Ireland staff, and this showed in her stronger cycling performance. The cycle wasn’t without it’s incidents with the two strong Kiwi athletes Hewitt and Warriner coming off the bike. Warriner managed to cycle back up, but Hewitt wasn’t so fortunate. At the end of the bike leg Aileen and the second pack had closed the gap to around 20 seconds.

Aileen’s hard work on the bike was paying off as she started the run with the second pack, the effort on the bike was starting to show and Aileen had a hard first half on the run. At the front the two Austrlian’s Moffatt and Snowsill, put in a class performance to put a sizeable gap into the rest of the field. Aileen’s running picked up as she settled into her stride and started to pick off others, climbing from 27th into the top 25. Undaunted by the calibre of the field Aileen put in a strong run, and managed to dig deep to out-sprint 10th place Beijing Olympian Debbie Tanner.

This was a fantastic start to Aileen’s 2009 season, beating eight athletes who qualifed for Beijing, including the highly ranked Debbie Tanner (10th in Beijing), Kate Allen (Gold in Athens). Even though we are early on in the lead up to London 2012, this is an excellent start for Aileen and the Triathlon Ireland programme. Aileen and the performance team now have the welcome problem of having to re-evaluate Aileen’s race programme in light of this big step-up in peroformance. Aileen has followed the trail blazed last year by our first Irish Olympian, Emma Davis. In last year’s tough route to Beijing qualification, Emma raced Tongyeong when it was a World Cup race, placing an excellent 10th. With Emma making good progress in her recovery from injury we will soon have two Irish women competing with the world’s best. Aileen’s results show that with the right attitude, world class systems in place, and targeted investment at the correct talent level, we can be competitive at on the World stage.

Aileen Morisson is on the Triathlon Ireland high performance programme, and is supported by the Sport Northern Ireland, the Irish Sports Council, and is based at the Sports Insitute Northern Ireland. Triathlon Ireland would like to congratulate Aileen for all her hard work and achievements to date, Chris Jones and Mark Dempsey for their high standards in coaching, and Amanda for back up support.

Full results can be found on www.triathlon.org.