DERRY triathlete Aileen Morrison claims her frustrating display in Hamburg on Sunday won’t disrupt her preparations for her Olympic debut as she arrived in London yesterday afternoon.
With just two weeks to go before she dives into the Serpentine in Hyde Park where she will represent Ireland, Aileen insists she is primed and ready for action as Olympic fever takes a firm grip on the London capital.
The Ireland triathlon team arrived at their pre-Olympic training camp in Lensbury, Middlesex yesterday and while she won’t be present at Friday’s opening ceremony as she puts the final touches to her training regime, she insists the excitement is palpable among the Irish squad.
Aileen has made a remarkable rise to prominence in the world triathlon scene over the past three years which has been reflected in podium finishes at European, World Cup and World Championship level, including a superb silver medal - the best ever result by an Irish triathlete - at the recent World Series race in Madrid.
And despite a poor showing in her final race before the Olympic Games in Hamburg on Saturday - the scene of her World Series bronze medal win in 2010 - where she finished in 36th place, she remains confident she can turn it around before the Olympic Triathon kicks off on August 4th and August 7th next.
Aileen had a problem with her wetsuit at the first transition in Hamburg and ended up in a chasing pack of cyclists but she failed to dismount her bike in time and had to serve a 10 second penalty on her run before a stitch put her well out of contention.
Hardly ideal preparation for the London Games but the Derry woman chose to take the positives from the race and was delighted with her swim time - something which will stand her in good stead in two weeks time.
“Obviously I was a bit disappointed with the Hamburg race but I suppose I had a good swim which is always good for me and it should be similar conditions in London you would think,” she said.
“At the minute we think it’s going to be a wetsuit swim so I’m quite happy with where I’m at in that regard and that’s what I’ve been working on really hard over the last while so that’s the good news.
“Other things didn’t exactly go according to plan, however,” she added.
“The bike was short because it was a sprint distance and then by the time I got to the run I had a stitch so things didn’t go well but at the same time I know I can turn it around and I would never not finish a race.
“That’s not the kind of person I am. I would never pull out and not finish, so I finished the race and in two weeks time I’ll be ready to rock. All the hard work should be done by now so it’s just the fine tuning now in this next two weeks.”
The 30 year-old is poised to become Derry’s eighth Olympian and while expectations will be high following her outstanding displays at world level during the past two years, she played down her chances of achieving a medal.
“I wouldn’t put myself forward as a medal contender but there’s 15 girls who could win a medal potentially,” she said.
“The winners have been that changeable and varied over the series of world races so anything can happen on the day and I’ll give it everything I have.
“Now that I’ve realised that I can medal at world level I don’t just want to go to be a participant, I want to go and I want to compete and I want to compete at my best.
“I know what I can do and that’s what I want to achieve when I get there. I want to do my best.
“I’d certainly be disappointed not to finish in the top 15. I’m still developing as an athlete. I’m still only in the sport three years at international level.
“A lot of the top girls have been doing this since they were 12 and 13 years of age. They have been going to training camps with the British team and learning about the sport from when they were very young. Maybe there is a bit of a confidence issue there as well.
“But I’m working on it all and you have to figure out what your strengths and your weaknesses are so that you can work on your weaknesses.
“I’ve raced the Olympic course last year which was a test event so I have a really good idea of what to expect and the next two weeks we’ll be focusing on coming out of the swim and being prepared with a really hard bike ride to begin with.
“I’m pretty happy with how the training has gone over the past couple of months so I can only do what I can do at the end of the day and I’m going to give it my best shot.”
Aileen has been overwhelmed by the banners wishing her well in the Derry and Inishowen area and she is thankful for all the support from people in the North West.
“I’m very thankful for all the support I’ve been getting from all the people in Derry so I’d just like to thank them for getting behind me and hopefully I can make them proud,” she concluded.