'I wanted to be that person, standing in the ring' - Aileen Reid on inspirational Katie Taylor

The Northern Irish triathlete has her sights firmly set on medal glory at Rio 2016.

Aileen Reid cheers on Katie Taylor at London 2012.
Aileen Reid cheers on Katie Taylor at London 2012.
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

AILEEN REID SHOWED her commitment to the sacrament of marriage, and her husband, when she changed her surname from Morrison last year.

The Derry triathlete then displayed an impressive commitment to a sport she hopes to medal in at Rio 2016 by leaving her new husband for six months of swimming, cycling and running out of her Australian training base.

Reid recorded two second-place finishes in the International Triathlon Union World Series last year and represented Ireland at London 2012.

She kicked off 2013 with a third place finish at the Davenport Triathlon in Tasmania and is preparing for the World Cup opener in Mooloolaba, Australia.

Reid caught up with from her base on the outskirts of Canberra, where she is staying with a local family, and revealed her plans to reach the pinnacle of a sport she took up seriously only six years ago.

She said, “I was very comfortable, training away in my own little bubble and doing all the things the way that I wanted to do them. I wasn’t really challenged outside of my little box and my perfect way of doing things.

Out of the box

Moving out of her comfort level meant a move to Australia to train under top triathlon coach Darren Smith, who trained Swedish silver medallist at London 2012 Lisa Norén

“It’s all part of getting better,” says Reid, “maybe doing things that are different or you don’t like. It is a gamble in one sense and I don’t think, necessarily, that there will be an immediate improvement in results but maybe over the next two years the it will benefit me.”

Luckily for Reid, and her marriage, her husband, David, is highly involved in the sporting world. The pair met when he was a high performance director for Ulster and Northern Ireland athletics.

She said, “He knows all about the effort and dedication it takes to make it to the top as an athlete. He was totally on my side and was the one pushing me nearly to be the best that I could be.” Reid added:

It was half his decision and the idea was that I wasn’t going to fanny around for the next four years. The logic was ‘if you’re going to do this, you might as well do it properly otherwise give up now and go have some babies’.

“Doing it properly means shipping off and going to live in Australia for half the year, following around a coach and his merry athletes.”

Life-changing experience

Reid credits her time at the Olympics with Team Ireland as an experience that will hopefully lead to greater success at the Commonwealth Games in 2014, where she plans to represent Northern Ireland, and Rio 2016.

She bonded, on movie nights and end-of-day chats in the lounge, with Lisa Kearney[judo], Chloe Magee [badminton], Natalya Coyle [modern pentathlon] and Melanie Nocher [swimmer].

Reid commented, “We all shared a little flat together. It was great to get to know them, learn about their diets, training, and we could always have a good moan.”

The 30-year-old and Kearney attended Katie Taylor’s Gold Medal bout against Russia’s Sofya Ochigava. Reid describes the fight, which Taylor won, as “phenomenal”.

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Katie Taylor salutes the crowd at the ExCel Arena in London. (INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

Reid said, “It was amazing to watch Katie and to be in that atmosphere; to see all the Irish flags and see everyone chanting. I was crying so many times; it just brought tears to your eyes.

It was just wanted to be that person, standing in the ring. To have that Irish flag going up that flagpole and singing that anthem.

“You wanted all that to be about you. You wanted to train harder and go out and do another run.”

Back on the bike

Reid was ranked in the top 10 of top female triathletes last year but a bad fall on her bike cost her in the Olympics and medal hopes faded as she was forced into a solo pursuit of the leaders.

The third place finish at Davenport last week represented a positive start for the Northern Irishwoman but her main goal for 2013 is getting to a consistent level of high performance.

She said, “That might seem strange to some people, not saying ‘I want to win an event’.

“However, I have had some amazing races and I’ve had some ridiculous failures. It’s really trying to find that middle ground, where I can eliminate my failures and bad races and try and improve them all.”

Reid added, “If I can eliminate those failures and get things right then maybe it will mean being on a podium or two… or three.

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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