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Our Aileen is going for Gold Coast after Games

By Steven Beacom

Published 28/07/2016

Wave racer: Aileen Reid is aiming for a strong showing in the triathlon at the Rio Olympics
Wave racer: Aileen Reid is aiming for a strong showing in the triathlon at the Rio Olympics

Ever moved home? Or moved country? Or prepared for the Olympics? One is stressful enough. Northern Ireland's world class triathlete Aileen Reid is doing all three at the same time.

And much like the way this impressive lady operates in her gruelling sport, she is taking it in her stride.

The 34-year-old from Londonderry will compete at her second and final Games in Rio next month, swimming 1,500m, cycling 40km and running 10km on a tough course in humid conditions.

Despite a testing season, which started with illness, Reid (right), who will represent Ireland, has the ability to finish in the top 10 on August 20.

Two months later, along with husband and respected athletics coach David from Lisburn, she will complete a life-changing move to the Gold Coast in Australia.

They have been planning it for some time and while Reid's focus is solely on Rio at present, she is well aware that the Commonwealth Games will be taking place in her new home in 2018.

"After the London Olympics in 2012 we said that we would love to go and live abroad," explained Aileen, who was sixth for Northern Ireland in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"It is something we wanted to do together. David has always had his eye on a job in Australia or New Zealand and he will work as an athletics coach at a Gold Coast school.

"For me it's not like it will be the end of what I do. The opportunities to train over there are far greater than back home. Also, that part of the world is all about sport which is such a big part of our lives.

"I'd say this will be my last Olympics as a competitor though with the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, competing in that event is not out of the question especially with us being out there then."

Open, honest and talkative, Reid admits that it wasn't until recently that she started to feel excited about her latest Olympic journey, which starts next Tuesday with a trip to a Florida training camp before travelling on to Rio.

"I had a frustrating time after suffering illness early in the season. I wasn't dying but I couldn't do the training that I needed to do and that led to me not getting the results I wanted," said Reid.

"I knew from September of last year that I had qualified for Rio. With having such an awful season, though, I wasn't that excited about going because I wasn't in great shape but my last couple of races have seen glimmers of hope. My training has been going well and I'm now more positive about it all."

Throughout her career, Reid has always been capable of at least one huge performance each year. The most memorable was a second-place finish at the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final in London in 2013, one year on from a nightmare Olympics in the same city when she was 43rd and had a heavy fall from her bike.

There is a feeling of Olympic redemption in Rio for Reid, but much more there is a sense of pride when reflecting on what has been a fine career.

"For three years in a row I have been ranked inside the world's top 10 and when I look back on what I have done in the sport I'm delighted," she said.

"I seem to have one really good performance every year and I'd love it to be in Rio this time. If I do all that I am capable of and put in 100%, I'll be happy. I know I'm a top 10 athlete, but you can only do what's in you on the day."

Husband David will be in Rio, while Aileen, who has been preparing at the Sports Institute Northern Ireland (SINI) at Ulster University in Jordanstown, will have plenty of support back in Derry from her parents Michael and Una and brother Conall. The double Olympian to be is delighted that her sister Ruth is flying home from Hong Kong to join the family gathering and overjoyed she is bringing Aileen's nephew Kieran along too.

Reid is reluctant to put a 'number' on where she will finish. One thing is certain, though; this gutsy woman will give it all she has got.

Belfast Telegraph

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