Aileen Reid: I’m definitely a better-rounded athlete now

Aileen Reid believes the lessons of London 2012 will stand her in good stead as she enters her second Olympic Games today.

The 34-year-old lines out on the Copacabana Triathlon course at 3pm (Irish time) this afternoon as she aims to improve on her 43rd-place finish four years ago.

Reid was considered a live medal contender heading into London, but a bike crash scuppered her hopes before she bravely battled back for a respectable finish.

However, the Derry native insisted she had much to improve on after London, which led to time spent training Australia under coach Darren Smith where she worked on her perceived flaws.

“I was a less-experienced, naive athlete who thought that it was all fitness orientated,” said Reid on her London experience.

“I re-evaluated things after 2012 and I did go to a new coach [Smith], who had a programme where the world-class athletes travelled together and travelled to races…

“I learnt so much from them.”

In Australia, Reid put particular emphasis on her bike work after her London mishap. “I don’t think I had the level of skill on the bike that I probably needed to be racing at that level and I’m definitely a better-rounded athlete now having had different coaches, different experience and training with different girls,” she explained.

Having returned to Ireland, the Derry woman was happy to return to training under former coaches Chris Jones and Tommy Evans, with whom she has worked on her fitness.

Her preparations for Rio were upset by illness last winter, but she feels a more low-key build-up to the Games may be a blessing in disguise.

“Obviously my results haven’t been fantastic this year and maybe that takes a wee bit of pressure off,” said Reid. “There’s nobody expecting anything from me so in a way that’s nice and I’m nearly going into the race as a dark horse.”

The 34-year-old may be considered to be in the mix for a competitive place in Rio ahead of today’s 1.5km swim, 40km bike race and 10km run, but she is happier now than when pre-London tipsters ranked her as a likely medal contender.

“All the papers and people were hanging around a medal around my neck,” she explained. “That made me quite nervous and anything can happen on the day.

“It’s very frustrating — there were headlines saying ‘Aileen’s going for gold’ and I was thinking ‘no I’m not!

“I’m not saying that I can’t get a medal’.

“What I’m saying is I’m going to do my best. I’ll be happy with my best whether that’s a medal or 43rd position.”

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