Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth Games: Brave Aileen's pride intact as she battles to respectable sixth

By Steven Beacom

Aileen Reid smiled and waved to her family and friends in the stand as she sprinted over the blue carpet to finish sixth in the Commonwealth Games triathlon amid the searing heat at Strathclyde Country Park.

Fifteen minutes later, with the sweat still dripping from her stretched to the limit body, the Northern Ireland sportswoman was hugging husband Davy, mum Una, dad Michael and brother Conall.

Reid may not have got the medal her efforts deserved, but the embraces from her loved ones offered more than a consolation.

The Londonderry lady tells it like it is in interviews and she has that same gutsy approach in her races, illustrated yesterday on a testing, hilly course 15 miles outside Glasgow.

The setting for the event, which began 11 hours after Wednesday's opening ceremony ended at Celtic Park, was glorious with the sun beating down on a large crowd as temperatures reached 26 degrees.

Tiring enough just wandering around in that sort of weather, let alone swimming 1500m, cycling 40 km and rounding it off with a 10km run.

Triathletes are tough. And while other events in the Games can't say the same, the field for yesterday's race was world class with the top stars in the sport involved.

Aileen, who previously competed under her maiden name Morrison, had an impressive swim in Strathclyde Loch, entering the transition for the cycling stage in fourth place.

With the swimcap and goggles off, replaced by a helmet, the 32-year-old rode a clever second leg keeping herself amongst the lead group of 10 and in contention for a medal.

The energy-sapping run followed and Reid was in a breakaway of six only to fall away with four kilometres to go, suffering from cramp.

She fought on to claim a highly respectable sixth spot in a time of one hour 59 minutes and 46 seconds, 50 seconds behind her training partner and friend Jodie Stimpson, who claimed the first gold medal of the Games for England, two years after being controversially left out of the Team GB squad for the London Olympics.

Canada's Karen Sweetland took silver with Stimpson's compatriot Vicky Holland winning bronze. New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt was fourth and Australia's Emma Jackson fifth with Reid next in what was an exciting, high class race.

"I'm pleased that I gave everything that I had," said the satisfied Ulster woman, who it should be noted only returned to anything like her best in the last month after an early season back injury.

"I can't turn my nose up at finishing sixth in the Commonwealth Games. The girls that were competing in the race were world class. To be up there challenging them was great for me.

"I'd a good swim and worked well on the bike which was pleasing. I'm hoping that my coach will be proud of my tactics and putting myself in a good position during the cycling.

"During the running I died a little bit on my second lap going down the hill when my leg started cramping. I didn't know whether to keep pushing and risk falling over myself. I pulled back a little bit and managed to stay running and on my feet. I did everything that I could have done to get the best out of myself.

"It was hot out there but we are well used to racing in warm weather conditions. I'm pleased for Scotland to have the sun shining to start off the Games. It brought big crowds which is great for the triathlon. It's a fantastic way to showcase what we do," added Reid, who earlier this month was placed ninth in Hamburg at the World Series event, which is run over a shorter distance.

While Aileen was pleased, there was disappointment for Emma Sharkey, also competing for Northern Ireland, who failed to finish the race.

Reid will now turn her attention to some family time and the mixed relay event on Saturday, taking the first leg for Northern Ireland.

She added: "As well as preparing for the relay, which I'm looking forward to, I'll chill out and spend time with my family.

"I've been away training a lot and haven't seen them.

"It was great to have so much support from the Morrison and Reid families for my race. My mum always says she just likes to see me home in one piece."

You achieved that Aileen. And did your family and country proud in the process. Great effort.

Belfast Telegraph

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