Aileen Morrison will look to finish off her season in style at the ITU Grand Final in Auckland this weekend.
The Grand Final is the pinnacle of the World Triathlon Series attracting all the top competitors. The only notable absentee is Olympic Gold medallist Nicola Spirig who has not raced since her London performance. The World Title will be contested by Sweden’s Lisa Nordon who has been all conquering since the Olympic Games and Australia’s Erin Densham who currently leads the Series.
New Zealand’s own Andrea Hewitt is also in the mix but would require Nordon and Densham to finish no better than eight.
Derry’s Aileen Morrison currently lies 15th in the Series but is within striking distance of the top 10 thanks to the bonus points on offer. Morrison was a solid 14th in Japan three weeks ago, sticking with the lead pack until the start of the run. Her run legs let her down on that occasion and she slipped down the field. On route to Auckland, Morrison planned to take in the Hong Kong Asian Cup however pulled out as a precaution when a mild cold developed after the long haul travel.
Triathlon Ireland’s High Performance Director Chris Jones suggests Aileen will be looking forward to the race. “It’s been a long hard season and everyone’s tired at the end of an Olympic year but Aileen is looking forward to the final race of the season.”
“A good performance could elevate her into the top 10 or Gold Group as it’s known, but a top 12 finish in the World Series would be an excellent result.”
The Auckland course should pose no problems for Morrison and sees athletes take in a two-lap 1.5km swim by Queens Wharf in plain sight of a large crowd. Onto the 40km bike and the women will be met with a gradual climb, followed by a sharp peak which must be tackled eight times. The four-lap 10km run takes place in downtown Auckland and will again be packed with supporters.
Westport youngster Con Doherty will also be competing in the Junior World Championships having qualified thanks to a host of top international results. Doherty, who was spotted at a Triathlon Ireland Talent ID Day in 2010, will be one of the youngest athletes in the race at just 16 years old.
“It’s all about gaining experience racing at this level. Con is one of, if not the youngest athlete in the field but if he can race to the best of his ability a top 20 finish is on the cards.” commented Jones.
Morrison, Doherty and the forty strong age group team who have travelled to Auckland received a boost ahead of their race after watching Ireland’s first Olympic representative in the sport of triathlon, Emma Davis claim 2nd place at the World Aquathlon Championships which took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Davis went into retirement after her 2011 season was spoiled by illness but made a successful return to elite racing over the swim – run format.
Davis exited the 750m swim with a narrow lead but was outrun over the 5km course by New Zealand’s Nicky Samuels who went on to win in a time of 33:02. Davis followed home in 34:32 with Croatia’s Tea Milos a further 30 seconds back.
The elite women’s race can be viewed live on the BBC Red Button from 12:10am on Saturday morning with highlights on Sunday 21st from 2pm. The Junior men’s race takes place on Sunday 21st while the Age Group race takes place on Monday 22nd.
Images attached FOC:
Aileen Morrison leading the bike pack at the Yokohama World Triathlon Series in Japan. Credit: Delly Carr/ITU Media