Derry Triathlete Aileen Morrison’s hopes of Olympic glory were dashed early yesterday when a bike crash cost her a chance of an Olympic medal in the women’s triathalon event.
she was unlucky to fall off her bike on the first lap of the cycle race through London. and after that she struggled to stay in touch with the race leaders. In the end, Aileen finished a disappointing 43rd overall, 8:28 behind Gold Medal winner, Nicola Spirig of Switzerland. Spirig won gold after a dramatic sprint photo finish with Sweden’s Lisa Norden in Hyde Park.
The 30 year-old Derry athlete - Ireland’s best female triathlete - was ranked seventh in the world going into the Olympics and was being tipped as an outside chance for a medal. She said she hoped to be in the top ten and would be disappointed to finish outside the top 15.
Speaking afterwards Aileen said she felt she had started well in the 1.5 kilometre swim in the Serpentine. She was 35th after the swim and while the bike is not Aileen’s strongest discipline she would still have fancied her chances as she began the 43 kilometre cycle.
However, all hope of being in contention at the finish were dashed, when in very slippery conditions, she fell off her bike on the very first lap. Aileen was in a group of five cyclists at the time and three of them fell off their bikes.
It was all uphill after that with too much ground to make up on the leaders and she was was not in the front 20 when it came to the 10 kilomentre run. However, she battled on to complete the four lap race and still managed a smile and a wave to spectators as she crossed the finishing line in a time of 2:08:25.
Back home in Derry Aileen was being cheered on by a group of supporters who gathered to watch the triathlon on the big screen at the Olympics live site at Waterloo Place. While her supporters knew it wasn’t going to be her day after the bike crash, they sayed to cheer her on to the finish.
The Derry girl can still be immensely proud of her her achievments. In just four years since taking up the sport she has a silver medal in both the ITU World Triathlon races in Madrid and in the Ishijaki World Cup race in Japan this year plus a bronze medal in the Hamburg World Championship race in 2010.
She has now become Derry’s eighth Olympian following in the steps of Anton Hegarty (Antwerp 1920 and Amsterdam 1928), Liam Ball (Mexico 1968, Munich 1972), Charlie Nash (Munich 1972), Terry Watt (Munich 1972), Neil McLaughlin (Munich 1972), Roisin Smyth (Los Angeles,
1984) and Elaine McLaughlin (Seoul, 1988).
While Aileen London Olympic journey ended in disappointment yesterday she has already set her sights on competing in the next Olympic Games in Brazil in 2016.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ before the Olympics she commented: “I want to compete with the best in the world because I know I can. I’m looking forward to 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Rio Olympics in 2016 after London.”