LIAM BALL TRIATHLON: Walton, Tighe return to defend titles this Sunday

PODIUM 2015 . . . Liam Ball Sprint Triathlon 2015 winner James Walton (Triangle Triathlon Club) in centre with, left, Derry triathlete Daniel Quigley in third and Bernard McCullagh (Go Tri) in second. Photo courtesy of Peter McLaughlin.

PODIUM 2015 . . . Liam Ball Sprint Triathlon 2015 winner James Walton (Triangle Triathlon Club) in centre with, left, Derry triathlete Daniel Quigley in third and Bernard McCullagh (Go Tri) in second. Photo courtesy of Peter McLaughlin.

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James Walton and Laura Tighe return to Derry to defend their Liam Ball Sprint triathlon titles at the annual North West Triathlon Club race this weekend.

Around 250 people will take part in the sprint distance event which comprises a 750m pool swim followed by a 20km bike ride and a 5k run, and is one of Ireland longest running triathlons.

The number of women taking part in the event has more than doubled since last year with more than 80 female competitors signed up for Sunday’s race. More than half of the female triathletes are taking part in their first sprint distance triathlon, having got a taste of the three-discipline sport in NWTC’s first ever ‘Ladies Tri-a-Tri event last November.

The first of eight waves in the 2016 Liam Ball Sprint will get underway in the pool at Templemore Sports Complex at 8 a.m. with the last wave - the elite males – starting at 11.20 a.m.

Among the top athletes to watch are returning champions James Walton from Triangle Triathlon Club and Sligo’s Laura Tighe of Go Tri. Walton is expected to face stiff competition from last year’s second placed male Bernard McCullagh while local athlete Mark Murray from NWTC is also considered a contender. On the back on strong recent performances, Triathlon Ireland development squad members, NWTC teenagers Odhran McKane and Luke McCarron, are also expected to be among the top finishers.

Elite local female triathletes Triona McMenamin from Letterkenny’s 24-7 TC, Katherine Woods from Triangle TC and North West TC’s Emma-Jo McConnellogue are expected to be in the mix for top female honours at the event.

As usual, careful preparation has gone into the event to ensure that everyone has a fantastic experience.

Carmel Lynch-Bradley

Taking part in the race for a 31st time will be local men Terry Donnelly and Danny Sheerin while veteran Irish international age group triathlete Roisin Lynch will be lining up for her 30th outing in the competition.

The annual triathlon is dedicated to the memory of Derry’s two-time Olympic swimmer Liam Ball, whose family is closely associated with the race.

Race Director, Carmel Lynch-Bradley said she is looking for to “yet another fantastic event” hosted by North West Triathlon Club.

“As always the Liam Ball Sprint has a great mix of first timers, veterans and elite triathletes taking part.

“Particularly striking is the record number of females taking part in this weekend’s event. More than 80 women have signed up which is more than double the number who took part last year. We’ve had to allocate an extra female wave to cater for the interest.

“Many of the female participants will be taking part in a full distance sprint triathlon for the first time in Sunday’s event with more than 40 of them having tested the water in our ladies Tri-a-Tri event last November.”

She added: “As usual, careful preparation has gone into the event to ensure that everyone has a fantastic experience.

“A team of more than 100 marshals has been assembled to ensure we deliver a high quality, safe and enjoyable race from the pool to the podium.

“The success of the competition is all down to the hard working members of North West Triathlon Club who pull together ensure everything runs smoothly,” she said.