Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Aileen is hoping to make an early splash in Glasgow

So near: Silver medallist Aileen Reid (right) embraces Non Stanford, the winner of the World Series Triathlon Grand Final in Hyde Park
So near: Silver medallist Aileen Reid (right) embraces Non Stanford, the winner of the World Series Triathlon Grand Final in Hyde Park

Aileen Reid is ready for her biggest event of the year. Ready to show she is back to her best after a frustrating early season back injury. Ready to do herself justice after a disappointing Olympics when she finished 43rd.

And ready to put down a marker for Northern Ireland at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The straight talking 32-year-old triathlete from Londonderry will compete on Thursday, starting the morning after the opening ceremony the night before.

That early entry into competition offers her the opportunity to set the standard for team-mates.

How she would love to be on the podium, when the first medals in Glasgow are handed out, though that will take some doing in her gruelling sport.

The 1,500-metre open-water swim, 40-kilometre road cycle and 10-kilometre run to finish is a test of endurance, character and ability and one in which Reid has improved to such a degree in the past decade that she is now regarded as one of the top 10 female triathletes in the world.

Recent results in the World Triathlon Series confirm that – she was ninth earlier this month in Hamburg – after missing the first part of the campaign due to back problems which was tough to take having ended the previous season on such a high, claiming a silver medal at the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in London.

Those worries are over now. All that is on Aileen's mind is Strathclyde Country Park on the outskirts of Glasgow.

"I am really happy with how things are progressing. I didn't have the greatest Winter with a back injury but then got back to training and have improved as the season has gone on. My last two races have been my best this year so I feel in good form," says Reid.

"The Commonwealth Games is the biggest race of the year for me.

"This is a major championship and I want to put right my experience at the Olympics when things didn't go as I had hoped.

"It's also a chance to represent Northern Ireland for the first time on a world stage and with the event in Glasgow, it is almost like a home Games for us because there is going to be so much support.

"I know I have a lot of family and friends coming over so hopefully that backing can drive me on. The weather conditions should also be in my favour so I'm looking for a good race."

What about winning a coveted medal then?

No messing around, Aileen, who previously competed under her maiden name Morrison, tells me I can write what I like about her prospects.

Fair enough. My view? At her best she is certainly capable of finishing in the top three.

She then adds: "At the moment I'm racing amongst the top 10 in the world. If you take the nations out who compete in the World Series that aren't in Glasgow, and I compete at my best I should be looking at the top eight, approaching the top five.

"But don't have the impression this is going to be easy race.

"This is a major Games for triathletes. It is considered the second biggest event in our sport, behind the Olympics so you will have the cream of the crop in Glasgow.

"In fact you could argue that it will be even more competitive than the Olympics because in London there were only three athletes competing for the UK, this time you will have three from each of England, Scotland and Wales as well as those of us representing Northern Ireland.

"Also at the Olympics there isn't always three Australian or New Zealand girls competing but there will be at the Commonwealth Games so it is going to be a very strong field.

"I'm glad it is on early because at the Olympics we had to wait several days before our race.

"In London I was watching lots of other events on TV when I wanted to be part of the action."

Reid, who will also compete in a Triathlon Mixed Team event for Northern Ireland on Sunday, intends on supporting her compatriots once she is finished, especially sprinter and friend Amy Foster, coached by Aileen's husband David.

"I'm looking forward to cheering Amy on. A lot of the athletes competing for Northern Ireland will know each other and I think our team will have a real family feel to it which should help us," she adds.

"I'm the first to compete for medals and my intention is to go out there and give it everything I've got."

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