Irish Triathlete wins Bronze in Age Group at 2017 ITU World Champs

“It feels very nice to have won a medal for Ireland. I certainly feel very proud and lucky as well.”

Desmond McHenry Bike2

Desmond McHenry is certainly a Triathlon inspiration. He won bronze at last week’s 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam in the large 70 – 74 age group of 30 athletes. We took the opportunity to catch up with him and hear about the race, and his adventures, first hand.

Having travelled over to Rotterdam in his campervan, Desmond was well settled in the city before the race and took the chance to recce the bike course a few days beforehand, noting concern at the technicality of the course. Weather conditions in the days leading up to the age group race were less than favourable but, as Desmond outlines, “the Irish contingent were all excited and happy about the whole thing”. A bit of rain isn’t likely to dampen Irish spirits!

Race Day

The day of the race was, thankfully, somewhat different to the recce he had completed previously.

“On the day of the race it was completely different, it was a good sunny day and the entire bicycle course was cordoned off which was easier to follow and the fact that there were more people out there riding it, you could see where the corners were from the riders in front of you. As far as the age groupers were concerned it ended up being a perfect day which was completely different to the para guys and even the elite race was in the rain. We were very lucky.”

There was a large Irish contingent of just over 110 athletes that travelled to the race and the support on course made a difference for Desmond; “the guys in the squad who had finished the race or who hadn’t done the race yet, they were shouting for you, it was good. The whole Irish atmosphere was very good.”

Desmond enjoyed the scenic, flat run through the park and on to the finish. However, it wasn’t until his son texted from Ireland that he realised how well he had placed and was really surprised when his wife gave him the news.

Desmond McHenry Bike1

with triathlon since the start

One of Ireland’s first triathlons at Craigavon in 1982 (35 years ago!) was also Desmond’s first attempt at the sport. He has been racing ever since and will continue to do so; “I’ve enjoyed it and I still enjoy it and as long as the body doesn’t let me down I’ll continue to do it.”

Things have changed over the years; “the technology has changed drastically. In the first couple of year’s of triathlon there were no wet suits for a start. You look at the events in Sligo and no one was wearing wetsuits. So they (wetsuits) have come into their own as well and make it more enjoyable you know, a bit more comforting. Bikes have come on, there was no carbon fibre back then!”

Up Next

The World Champs was Desmond’s last race of the season but he already has his sights set on next year’s adventure; “I would like to go to the Gold Coast for the World’s next year if everything comes together. I’ll do the usual five races here at home.”

No doubt one of those five races will be Portaferry Sprint Triathlon organised by Narrows Tri Club, which he describes as his favourite race due to the A to B swim across Strangford Lough; “it makes it an adventure.”

Congratulations Desmond on your incredible achievement and we look forward to catching up with you again to hear about the Gold Coast next year!