Reid Aiming for Olympic Peak

Aileen London 2012

Aileen Reid lines out in her second Olympics tomorrow (15:00 Irish time) aiming to recapture the kind of form that has seen her finish on the podium of some of the world's biggest races.

Reid has timed her form to peak for this year's Olympics and as one of the world's top triathletes, should be to the fore of what will be a hotly contested and very open women's triathlon final.

Reid is by far Ireland’s most successful international triathlete - and remains the only athlete ever to podium at World Series level.

London 2012

She was tipped to be within medal territory for the triathlon race in London 2012 but a crash in the early stages of the bike left her struggling over the line in 43rd place - a result that didn’t reflect her world class pedigree.

Reid has made a slow start to 2016 - the result of illness that prevented her from training fully over the winter months. But since making her racing debut with a fifth place finish at ETU Quarteira in April, she has gradually built form for the Olympics.

According to Triathlon Ireland High Performance coach Tommy Evans, the most important thing for Aileen heading in to the race is confidence.

AIleen Olympic Solo

"Aileen is in good form and is well set for tomorrow, she just has to make sure she races smart. I would expect Aileen to be in the mid to front pack on the swim, the thing with this swim is that they are a little more nervous because it’s 1500m straight and it’s a long way to the first buoy."

According to Evans, once on the bike, Aileen has the power and strength to get up the hills untroubled and has been practising the course so that on race day she can maintain her place within the bike pack. Her plan then will be to put her undoubted running ability in to play for as high a finish as possible.

"As we saw with the men's race, this bike course is very technical and on the descent you can loose a lot of time if you don't hold the wheel in front of you. Athletes who loose that wheel are then forced to sprint once they hit the flat to stay with their group. By the time they get on to the run, they've put in too much work on the bike and they're legs are dead - we saw that in the men's race, lots of the guys ran relatively slow times and that's what was happening."

Evans is expecting an exciting race: "I think Flora Duffy will go off the front on the bike, the question will be how long it takes Nicola Spirig to get the group. The longer it take her, the bigger the devastation will be out front. Gwen Jorgensen is not as strong on the bike and she will he hoping to get two or three laps to settle in before Spirig arrives."

Top 10 Potential

Tommy Evans says on her day, Aileen Reid can challenge the best athletes in the world and all her training has been directed towards making this happen tomorrow:

"It’s not going to be a fast run, it’s going to be a battling run and who can tolerate the hard stuff from the bike. It’s all about position, critical moments like the top of the hill, the descent, making sure you are in the best position. Aileen definitely has the potential to make the top ten in this race, that’s more than achievable she just has to make sure she doesn’t make any slip ups. As we saw with Bryan, make a mistake and you're gone so we just have to be smart." 

Aileen Olympic Pool 1

Reid - Peaks When it Matters

Reid has always pulled out one big performance each season - and more often than not it has come in the biggest races on the calendar. In 2013 she claimed the silver medal at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in London, the following year Reid came 5th at the Grand Final in Edmonton while last year she finished 9th at the Grand Final which was held in Chicago.

The women’s medal positions in the Olympics will be hotly contested but Reid cannot be discounted from the final reckoning.

Irish Test Rio's Olympic Triathlon

The ITU’s Take on the Rest of the Field

Over the past three years, there has been barely a blip on Gwen Jorgensen’s ITU race record. The American almost went two years on the World Triathlon series undefeated, and took the Rio test event title in 2015. Despite two slight bumps this year, a second and a third in WTS races, she looms as the woman to beat on the biggest stage in Rio.

But what makes the women’s field in the triathlon event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games so intriguing is that it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Jorgensen wasn’t standing on top of that podium.

The start list also holds four Olympic medallists, including all three from that epic race in London four years ago, Nicola Spirig (SUI), Lisa Norden (SWE) and Erin Densham (AUS). Beijing bronze medallist Emma Moffatt (AUS) is the fourth. Add in five ITU World Champions, Jorgensen, Moffatt and Great Britain’sHelen Jenkins (who all have two ITU World Championships), Non Stanford (GBR) and Lisa Norden (SWE). Then there is Andrea Hewitt (NZL), who has come close five times, with five overall top three ITU World Championship world ranking finishes.

There are also more than a few handfuls of WTS race winners, all those athletes listed above have won a title, plus Sarah True (who finished fourth at the London 2012 Olympic Games), Vicky Holland (the 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist), Barbara Riveros (CHI) and Anne Haug (GER). Flora Duffy (BER) and Katie Zaferes (USA) have both joined that list in the past few months, hitting form at the perfect time. 

Tactical Race Expected

What all this points to is a thrilling tactical race in Rio. No one is faster on feet than Jorgensen, and therefore the first two stages hold the key to the possible upset. Those races that she has lost this year all came down to a killer bike leg, Jenkins and Duffy broke away on the Gold Coast, and while Jorgensen chased Duffy down – she couldn’t catch Jenkins. In the sprint distance race in Hamburg just a few weeks ago, Zaferes and Klamer got away in a group and stayed that way until the finish. Pretty much only one thing is for sure, the women’s triathlon race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be two hours of fascinating action and brilliant storylines.

You can read the ITU’s full profile of the women’s race here

Swim – 1.5km (1 laps) - The swim will be held in the Copacabana Beach. Athletes will run into the water from the beach and do one out and back lap.
Bike – 40km (8 laps) – The bike course heads down “Rua proffesor Gastao Baiana”. The first part of this street is the steepest climb of the circuit, followed by a fast downhill to “Av. Epilafio Pessoa”. Athletes then do a technical 90-degree turn, followed by another technical 90-degree turn just 200 meters later to “Avenida Henrique Dodsworth”. Atheltes face one more technical turn at “Av Atlantico”.
Run – 10km (4 laps) – Athletes will run along Av. Atlantico in front of Copacabana Beach for a total of four out and back laps.

Click here for the women's start list