Aileen secures London Olympics qualification

25 June 2011; Ireland's Aileen Morrison, from Derry, fourth from right, in action during the Elite Women's race. Aileen finished in 14th position, in a time of 2:07:28. 2011 Pontevedra ETU Triathlon European Championships - Elite Women, Pontevedra, Spain. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***
25 June 2011; Ireland's Aileen Morrison, from Derry, fourth from right, in action during the Elite Women's race. Aileen finished in 14th position, in a time of 2:07:28. 2011 Pontevedra ETU Triathlon European Championships - Elite Women, Pontevedra, Spain. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***
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DERRY TRIATHLETE, Aileen Morrison has guaranteed herself a place at next year’s London Olympic Games following her superb second placed finish in the latest World Cup event in South Korea last Saturday.

The City of Derry Spartan finished behind France’s Jessica Harrison in Tongyeong, South Korea, a performance which elevates her into 15th place in the International Triathlon Union rankings.

With the top 60 triathletes in the rankings earning automatic spots in London, Morrison’s position means she is certain to remain in the top 60 even if she doesn’t compete in any further qualifying events ahead of the London Games.

In her two prior events in the World Championship series, Morrison secured fourth places both in Mexico and Yokahama.

In Saturday’s race, Morrison produced a solid swim and then took turns at the front with several other competitors on the hilly 40k bike section.

Morrison made a break for an early lead in the run before being overtaken by Harrison and she held on to second place ahead of Spain’s Zurine Rodriguez.

The silver medal matches her second place from the Ishagaki World Cup at the start of this year in Japan.

“It was hard to back up two races in six days in different continents but I worked hard on the bike and Jess just had that bit extra on the run” said Morrison.

The Derry woman will now take a well deserved two-week break from training before begining winter training in November at her Lisburn base, with clubs Maryland Wheelers Cycling Club, City of Lisburn swim club and at the Sports Institute Northern Ireland at Jordanstown.

Comber Cup Cross Country

Meanwhile, the NI Masters organised Comber Cup cross country races at Barnets Park in Belfast last Saturday attracted an excellent turnout and, after some quality racing, a trio of local female athletes confirmed their places on the NI squad for next month’s Home Countries championship in Glasgow, while a further five placed on the reserve lists in their respective age groups.

The City of Derry Spartans trio, Jackie McGinley, Bridgeen Byrne and Una Gavin all ran very well to clinch selection in the F35, F45 and F50 age groups.

Foyle Valley duo, Rosie O’Brien and Cathal McLaughlin were named as F40 and M40 reserves and three male Spartans, Oran McBride M35, Dermot Connolly M50 and Peter Lilburn M55 are also on their respective age category reserve lists for Glasgow.

In the upfront races won by Annadale Striders’ impressive David Morwood and Cathy McCourt of North Belfast Harriers local runners were also prominent.

Damien McGinty impressed by finishing ahead of many younger opponents in the men’s 8K, as he made his M50 debut a promising one.

McGinty wasn’t considered for selection on the NI M50 squad as he had not pre-registered and he may head to Dublin this Sunday for the Irish trial race.

Another Spartan, Anne Paul, finished a good third overall in the women’s 6K race but she had already indicated her unavailability for selection so unfortunately will not travel with the NI F45 team to Glasgow.

Jackie McGinley ran very well to finish fifth F40 and was rewarded with a slot on the F35 squad for Glasgow as she finished in front of many younger rivals and her contribution will enhance the F35 squad.

Bridgeen Byrne confirmed her F45 team place and will also double as the NI women’s team manager. F50 Una Gavin did very well to make her age group squad for Glasgow and thus her first hopefully of many Masters international vests.

The local contingent is expected to be increased this weekend after the Irish trial race in Dublin’s Phoenix Park where F60 Roisin Lynch and M65 Christy McMonagle are fancied to make it onto the Irish teams and maybe Damien McGinty will challenge strongly in the M50 age category. The sizeable Donegal contingent of course are also fancied to boost the North West input in Glasgow.

Masters Awards

Staying with the Masters, several top locals were honoured last Saturday night at the annual NI Masters Awards presentations.

Gerry Lynch topped the bill when he received the ultimate accolade of NI Male Master of the Year. The M65 maestro was presented with the Johnston Scott perpetual shield after a successful 2010/2011 season which included individual golds in the NI and National cross country championships, overall M65 winner of the NI Winter League and a team silver from the Masters International cross country in Dublin last November.

Competitive Return in New Year

Injury unfortunately means this year’s International in Glasgow is not on the agenda but he expects to be back in competitive in the new year.

Others to be recognised for their performances were F40 League winner Jackie McGinley; M50 winner Dermot Connolly. M55 winner Peter Lilburn, F45 runner-up Bridgeen Byrne and M55 10K and cross country championship star, Sammy McAnaney.