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Eimear Mullan at the Commonwealth Games!

Eimear Mullan at the Commonwealth Games!

When I started triathlon as an age grouper around 6 years ago I would never even have dreamt of doing something like the Commonwealth Games. I was a trainee teacher doing triathlons as a ‘weekend warrior’ just for fun and to keep fit. As I started to improve, I guess I did have some thoughts about racing at an elite level, but I soon learned that I would have to go to the longer non-drafting distances of 70.3 and Ironman where the swim doesn’t have such an impact on the race. As neither of those distances feature at the Commonwealth or Olympics games, I put any thoughts or dreams of going there behind me I moved towards my long distance career.

It was at the beginning of last year when I got a call from Tommy Evans from Triathlon Ireland about considering the Commonwealth Games for 2014. I was very shocked by his call but I said I was interested and then totally forgot about it as I got on with my long distance racing. I knew my swim was too weak to be competitive at the Olympic distance but when I was training in Spain in February I met with Tommy and he suggested that the Relay might be an option for me at the games. I don’t know if I really believed that I would actually be selected but I knew I would love to be a part of it and I was really excited when the team was announced and I was on it.

As the selection date was quite close to the games I continued with my race program which involved a few half distance races and an Ironman (IM France) 4 weeks before the games. It worked well as I trained as normal up to the Ironman, had some recovery time then focussed on some much shorter and harder efforts in training to get ready for the super sprint distance for the triathlon relay. My racing distance would go from 3.8k swim/180k bike/42.2k run to a 250m swim, 6k bike, and a 1.6k run!!

When I was preparing to leave for the games it felt like I was going on a school trip. We went by bus to Glasgow and when we arrived we went to a hotel to keep us away from the hype of the Athletes Village and close to the triathlon venue of Strathclyde Park. We made a few trips to the Athlete Village and as I was racing in only the Triathlon Relay I was the triathlon representative at the opening ceremony. It was great to be a part of it and to meet some of the other athletes.

We spent the week preparing as a team. It was great to be part of a team environment and a very different experience for me as I am used to doing everything on my own. We were well looked after and it was a relaxing, stress free run in to the race. When race day arrived we were all looking forward to getting on with it and it was the short hard explosive effort we had expected. In the triathlon relay each person does the swim, bike, and run before handing over to the next person to do the same. Our team consisted of Aileen Reid, Connor Murphy, Russell White and me. I was 3rd to go and I have to say it was the hardest I have ever gone in any race. I swam biked and ran as hard as I could and handed over to Russell. We put in a brave effort to finish in 6th place. So after around 20 minutes of hard work from each of us it was time to head off to enjoy a few days in the Athletes Village.

It was quite a surreal feeling wandering around the village and going from venue to venue to watch different sports. It was such an honour to go to the Commonwealth Games to represent Northern Ireland and an experience I will never forget. I was the first Northern Ireland athlete to leave the village and though I would like to have stayed until the end, I needed to get back to my normal training program to prepare for the second half of the season.

Well done to Eimear, Aileen and the rest of the Northern Ireland team! Eimear's next event is the Ironman 70.3 European Championships in Wiesbaden, Germany on 10th August. Ritchie Nicholls and Fran Bungay will also be competing so we'll keep you posted with all the latest news!

6 August 2014

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