Learning Experience for Team Ireland at World Champs

WTS Hamburg 2020 - Women's Swim Start

Ireland’s elite triathletes will come away with some valuable learnings from the World Championships at WTS Hamburg.

In the individual races, Carolyn Hayes was the best of the five athletes competing across the two events, finishing in 52nd place in the women’s event.

Maeve Gallagher finished 60th in the same race, which saw Erin McConnell forced to withdraw after the halfway point of the bike.

Earlier in the day, Ireland’s leading men Con Doherty and Russell White also came away with little to show for their efforts as they finished in 54th and 56th respectively in the men’s race. 

Speaking from Hamburg, Triathlon Ireland’s High Performance Director Stephen Delaney said there was no disguising the group’s disappointment with the results.

“For our senior athletes, Carolyn, Russell and Con,  particularly their expectations and our own were higher they aspire to higher but we know that it’s the first race back for them the way the return to competition has played out and they all know that there are better days ahead.”

Mr Delaney added, “for Maeve and Erin this was their first full triathlon with this quality of field and the experience will be invaluable for them. The team has the Mixed Relay tomorrow and we have to thank the ITU for the work done to give another opportunity to go racing in what has been a difficult year for everyone.”

The five athletes will move on quickly as the exciting prospect of a Mixed Team Relay World Championships looms - an extremely exciting race that sees national teams of two men and two women race against each other over a short and fast course.

Carolyn Hayes_WTS Hamburg 2020 Run 

First Elite Race Back

Hamburg was the first elite international triathlon event since the onset of COVID-19 and with athletes unable to train as normal for almost six months, form was one of the uncertain factors heading in to event.

Ireland’s top ranked athlete, Carolyn Hayes made a promising start, coming out of the water in 28th place and among a large pack of chasers 33secs back from the leading women. 

On the bike however, the pace was on and Hayes’s pack found the gap between them and the leaders increasing to the extent that she was 2mins 45secs in arrears and in 54th position by the time her large group had finished the 20km bike. 

The Limerick athlete battled hard on the run and overhauled six spots during the 5km third leg to come home in 48th place.

Maeve Gallagher_Swim Exit_WTS Hamburg 2020

Maeve Gallagher, who was due to race the Junior World Championships this year before its cancellation, exited the 750m swim in 60th and for a time appeared to have caught up with Hayes bike pack which would have put her in the security of working with other riders. 

The Mayo teeanger, who is a notably strong cyclist and rode the Junior Cycling World Champs last year, lost contact however and was forced to complete the remainder of the race solo, making her day far harder. She came home in 60th place. Fellow first timer and teenager Erin McConnell was forced to retire from the race halfway through the bike.

Erin McConnell & Maeve Gallagher_T1 Exit_2020 WTS Hamburg

 

Men’s Race

Earlier in the day, Russell White and Con Doherty started their race ranked 39th and 56th as they took to the pontoon in a sixty-five strong field that included double Olympic champion Alastair Brownlee.

Con Doherty_Bike_WTS Hamburg 2020

Unusually, in particular for Russel White, both athletes found themselves off the pace after the swim, coming out of the water in 63rd and 65th. Despite their best efforts on the bike, the pair then struggled to catch the fast-moving chase pack, with the leaders more than two minutes ahead at the end of the 18.9 kilometre course. 

Making up some places on the run, Doherty ran the five kilometres in 15:44 for 54th place and White 16:20 for 56th place.

Russell White_Run_2020 WTS Hamburg

Mixed Team Relay

On Sunday afternoon, the Irish team of Maeve Gallagher, James Edgar, Erin McConnell and Ian Manthey joined the 18 other national teams in the Mixed Team Relay event.

Always a thrilling event to watch, each athlete completes a 300m swim, 6km bike and 1500m run in the Hamburg parkland before the next teammate starts. The youngest athlete in the field, Maeve Gallagher took the first leg of the relay and battled valiantly to stay in touch. Gallagher handed over to James Edgar with a two minute deficit to the leaders. Always consistent on the run, Edgar pulled some time back before handing over to Erin McConnell. Working on her own on the bike, it was impossible for McConnell to avoid being lapped by the fast moving lead pack.

Gaining valuable experience at international level, this young team were unfortunately forced to retire when lapped on the bike course during the third leg. The Mixed Team Relay was won by France, USA second and Great Britain third.