From Triathlon Ireland Riding on the wave of enthusiasm following on from the London Olympic Games and a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships by Con Doherty, Sunday’s junior talent identification day was a record breaking affair
Over 110 applications were received by budding triathletes with seventy 14-23 year olds invited along for the swim – run time trials. Those under 16 completed a 200m swim and 1500m run while those over 16 completed a 400m swim and 3000m run.
Olympians Aileen Reid and Gavin Noble were also in attendance, completing a very insightful Q&A session with the Junior Athletes and parents.
Asked how he got into triathlon Noble reminisced “I’m very old now but we had the Irish schools championships in my town so I was lucky and just fell into it. There wasn’t the structure there is now and there wasn’t as many great coaches in Ireland so I probably struggled a little bit more than I should have.”
Since 2010 Triathlon Ireland under the guidance of High Performance Director Chris Jones has established a successful junior program and run talent identification days every 6 months. The results of this program are just starting to show with the National Junior Squad picking up a host of top 10 results at European Cup events throughout the 2012 season. This was topped off with bronze at the Junior World Championships.
With the Youth Olympics less than 2 years away Jones recognises the opportunity this poses.
“We have a strong squad of athletes at the moment so we’ll be targeting this event in China in 2014. Qualification will be tough but we have athletes who are capable of competing with the best in the world.”
Following the Q&A athletes moved to the track where they were joined by Fionnuala Britton and elite triathlete Bryan Keane. Britton did not partake in the track session however Keane was using the talented juniors on hand to test himself during training.
Current Junior Squad member and fellow Cork man Chris Mintern certainly did that surprising himself with his performance. “I looked over at 2k and couldn’t believe I was still with Bryan. I know he’s only training but he pulled me along to a 20 second PB so I’m really happy with my 8min 48sec time.”
Keane then went on to complete a second 3000m time trial a few minutes later pacing the next group of junior athletes.
The talent identification day also doubled as a Junior Awards presentation. Con Doherty beat off stiff competition from Aichlinn O’Reilly in 2nd and Shaun Hennessy in 3rd for the Junior National Series while Emma Sharkey came out ahead of Maedbh Hurst and Lauren O’Brien for the girls.
Con Doherty also picked up the Junior Athlete of the Year award which was decided by member voting.
Junior National Series
Gold Con Doherty
Silver Aichlinn O’Reilly
Bronze Shaun Hennessy
Gold Emma Sharkey
Silver Maedbh Hurst
Bronze Lauren O’Brien
Vodafone National Series
Gold Naoise Sudway
Silver Stephen Rooney
Bronze Kieran Jackson
Gold Maedbh Hurst
Silver Aine Collins
Sprint National Champion
Gold Caelan Verdekal
Duathlon National Champion
Gold Ciaran Hughes
Junior Athlete of the Year