Retiring was hardest ever call, says triathlete Aileen Reid
Olympic triathlete Aileen Reid has announced her retirement from the sport due to injury in a heartfelt letter posted on Twitter. The Derry-based 35-year-old has been forced to hang up her running shoes due to a series of recurring problems over the last year.
After weighing up her options, Reid took to social media yesterday to announce her decision to walk away from a sport in which she achieved much success.
She was ranked in the world's top 10 for three years and competed in two Olympic Games, London and Rio, finishing 43rd in 2012 and 21st in 2016.
She also competed in the Commonwealth Games for Northern Ireland and placed on the podium several times in the World Series.
But yesterday Reid announced she would no longer be competing, writing in an open letter posted on Twitter under a four word headline: "Waving the white flag".
"Illness and injury are inevitable in a sporting career and I am a fighter - but this fight got me," the letter read.
Now that she is no longer competing, Reid says she hopes to go into coaching to maintain her links with the sport she loves.
However, she admits that the future is now scary without being able to compete any more, even if she is excited to move onto a new stage of her career.
"I wanted to end on a high, a positive, I wanted to stand on that podium one more time and it was my dream to hear 'Amhran na bhFiann' with the Tricolour (or Northern Ireland flag for that matter) flying in front of me," Reid added.
"From time to time I remind myself that I was good once and not to give up.
"But the light is fading at the end of the tunnel and my belief that I would be able to overcome this injury and be the athlete I once was, is disappearing.
"I don't want to be half-good at anything, and so it's time to wave the white flag. I've been through the stages of grieving - it's a scary time leaving something behind, someone I was, something that I did that will probably define me forever."
The inspirational triathlete received a wave of support in response, including from fellow Ireland athletes such as middle-distance runner Ciara Mageean, Para-athlete Michael McKillop and cyclist Martyn Irvine.
"Aileen you've been an inspiration while competing and you'll continue to inspire those around you in all you do," Mageean said. "Good luck with the next step."
McKillop, who last week took two golds in the World Para-athletics Championships, added: "Congratulations on a Fantastic Career #HappyRetirement."
And Irvine commented: "Good luck and enjoy what comes next."
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland's Commonwealth Youth squad returned home from their successful Games in the Bahamas yesterday.
The team returned home, having equalled their medal haul from the 2015 Games in Samoa, picking up 12 overall - two gold, five silver and five bronze.
Sprinter Aaron Sexton and high jumper Sommer Leckey were the two gold medallists, and both could compete in next year's Commonwealth Games in Australia.