Team Ribble-sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll is excited by the Rio Olympics after a good performance in the Malmo European Cup triathlon. Watch her video below…
The Olympics… Where little kids dream of going and where big kids have dreams come true. What a fabulous representation of how sport can bring people together. Anyone following Rio will have come across the picture which was a selfie of the young North and South Korean gymnasts together… how fabulous to see. Another picture which went viral was the beach volleyball picture which included team Egypt playing in full length kit. Brilliant. So many cultural differences put aside for the love of a sport. Brilliant.
The Olympics, and sport in general of course, have been tainted with doping scandals. It’s horrible to see so many clean athletes being affected by so many doping athletes and nations. It makes you question why they do it. It makes you question if anyone is actually clean. It makes you look at your own rivals and think… are you clean?
My latest European Cup triathlon
I raced in Sweden a week ago and had the most fabulous race experience to date. I travelled with my boyfriend Rich who wasn’t racing, but was there to help me and this proved very beneficial. He was able to do small things like carry my bike box and do some errands which allowed me to rest and conserve my energies.
I also had the pleasure of meeting one of my countrywomen, and now true friends, whilst out there. I somehow dodged meeting Susanna Murphy on many race occasions but when I met her randomly on a cobbled street in Malmo, I knew she was a keeper! What an awesome girl! Susanna went on to finish 14th in Malmo to gain her 3rd top 15 in a row on the international scene – flying that Irish tricolour flag loud and clear. When I grow up I want to be like her!
I went in to the Malmo triathlon ranked number 29 and my realistic goal for this race was a top 25 finish. Unfortunately I didn’t get that and finished 29th but there were so many positives to take from this race. The first major positive was how relaxed and controlled I was before the race start. I have serious issues with eating breakfast on travel day to races and race day morning.
For some reason although my nerves feel fine, my stomach does not allow me to eat and I feel incredibly nauseous before racing. This time round I was able to eat half a bowl of cereal and some white bread with a bit of bacon. I was having weird cravings, but was going to eat whatever I could get down me as something was better than the usual nothing. Big success.
Another success surrounded the build up to the race. I was so calm and collected being around Susanna. Having Rich there as a familiar someone was hugely calming. Race day, although it brought with it some surprises in weather conditions and whether we were allowed wetsuits or not, it went rather smoothly. The water temperature was all over the place. The day before the race it was 18.8 degrees (wetsuit). The morning of the race 17.6 (wetsuit) and then one hour before the race – 20.8 (none wetsuit). Whatever that water was doing I was not a fan! A few issues upon check-in and we were ready to rock.
My Ribble gets me back in touch
During the race itself – I swam main pack which is where I expected to be. But I was at the back of the pack and a trip and meet and greet with the ground upon swim exit meant I was on the back foot. I went from being there to wow – where did she go?! I did all I could and my Ribble Aero 883 which got me back in touch with the group.
However at this point the main pack on the swim had split into two and the group I had caught back on to was the second half of that group. Not ideal. The eventual winner who then travelled to Rio for the Olympic triathlon, came from my swim pack so that’s very encouraging in itself. I felt incredibly strong on the bike and my little Ribble rocket was fabulous. Entering T2 I was actually running for a top 20 finish despite the previous events and trips. The top 20 wasn’t there for me this race but it’s all there for the taking once I get myself to stop tripping up over my own feet. The ingredients are there, I just need to get mixing and then baking!
Sweden was a special race for me as one of the main sponsors was one of my own sponsors… Newline sport. They are the sponsor of both Swedish and Danish triathlon and so it was nice to see their flag flying high… helped along by the extreme winds as well! The role a sponsor plays in the journey of an athlete is rather huge. I would like to take this time to reinforce how important sponsors are.
Sponsors are so important
No journey is smooth and no journey is cheap. Support, both financially and in equipment, is just massive and allows athletes to grow. Where does the role of sponsor fit in for athletes who don’t start their journey on the podium? It fits in everywhere. There are athletes who started nowhere and are now the best in their field. Their sponsors stood by them when things were looking a little grim. Losing sponsors at a time where races don’t go smoothly is a kick in the teeth athletes don’t need.
We all want to promote the brands as best we can and do our sponsors proud in an effort to thank them but this doesn’t always happen. Sponsors who are there through thick and thin, through the lows and the highs, for the love of trying to help and support – they are the ones who make the difference. Such a huge support. I have been so lucky in having such great support this year.
I have not had the success just yet that I have been dreaming of but each day is a day building strength and speed I didn’t have the day before and each triathlon shows progress. Having people believe in you is a big boost and I believe I will have the success I dream of one day. Rome wasn’t built in a day and some journeys require more time than others. I have time and I am very motivated to get myself to where I want to be.
I hope everyone is cycling happy and loving doing what they are doing – triathlon or cycling!
Stay safe, stay healthy,