AILEEN MORRISON’S status as one of the world’s best female Triathletes is quickly gathering pace after the local women produced one of the best performances of her career to finish second in the ITU World Cup event in Ishigaki, Japan last Sunday.
This latest outstanding performance comes on the back of her victory in the ETU European triathlon in Turkey earlier this month and a bronze medal display in the Hamburg World Championship Series event last year, to further enhance her chances of securing a place at next year’s Olympic Games in London.
Indeed, the result gives 28 year-old Morrison valuable qualification points toward her dream of representing Ireland in Hyde Park next August. And if she gets there it will fulfil a lifelong ambition.
Re-inforcing the significance of her weekend performance is the fact that she finished ahead of three-time Olympic champion, Kiyomi Niwata, who made a late charge to claim the bronze medal while she finished behind Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz.
Morrison, who is currently 21st in the world rankings and well on course for one of the 70 Olympic slots, pulled away from the bunch in the final cycling lap to secure another world cup podium in a time of 2:02:19.
“It was fantastic and I was delighted to stand on the podium.” said the North West Tri Club member. “It was a lovely place to do a race, in Ishigaki. Fantastic people, fantastic course. It was really hard, yet I loved it and I am delighted I finished second.”
The race started in almost perfect conditions, 28 degrees celsius in the air and 23 in the water, and the attacks started immediately from the swim.
Kerry Lang (GBR), Line Jensen (DEN), Radka Vodickova (CZE) and Eri Kawashima (JPN) broke away in the water and took their lead into the bike.
Coming into fourth lap, the group has a sizeable 30-second gap, however, the chase that included Riveros Diaz, Morrison, Mariko Adachi (JPN) and Kirsten Sweetland (CAN) turned on the pace and within a lap had caught them. A total of 30 athletes then hit transition together.
But that mass run group didn’t last for long as Riveros Diaz made her move in the first lap, from there her incredibly efficient strides took her lead further on each hilly lap heading into the finish.
A chase group that included Morrison, Niwata, Erin Densham (AUS) and Marina Damlaimcourt (ESP) tried to catch her but to no avail.
In the three years from 2008 to 2010, Morrison took part in 22 ITU events and achieved 11 top ten positions.
The Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup is the longest running ITU World Cup event, having been held every year since 1996.