Following Cork Triathlon Club's triumph in the inaugural Mixed Relay Championship, chairman Brendan O’Neill has branded the win as “very, very special”.
The team of Chris Mintern, Amy Wolfe, Katie Cooke and Mark Nolan overcame gusty winds and heavy downpour to claim first place at Belvedere House and Gardens near Mullingar.
The 24-team race was the first of its kind in Ireland, as O’Neill explains: "It used to be done on an elite basis, this was the first time that mixed relay has been in a championship. There’s also going to be a perpetual trophy for this at the annual awards ceremony. So it’s great that Cork will be the first name on the trophy.”
Triathlon as a sport has grown in popularity recently with CTC - now 18 years old - seeing membership swell by more than 150 in recent years. So the involvement of Bryan Keane and Aileen Morrisson at Rio 2016 can only benefit the profile of triathlon as a sport.
“To do a triathlon is something that a lot of people have on their bucket list. It’s a sport that lends itself to all levels; you can have beginners and elite level athletes. There’s a place for everybody within it.” said the chairman of 12 years. “There’s a great buzz around the sport and I think having a Corkman at Rio will help us a lot down here.”
Chris Mintern impressed on the way to victory as he pulled away for a two-minute advantage by the time he tagged his team mate Katie Cooke. The team went on to beat second-place Limerick by just 22 seconds.
Just last month, Mintern was crowned the Standard Distance National Champion after winning Hell of the West in Kilkee.
The notoriously tough race comprised of a 1,500m swim in a choppy sea, a 44km bike route along the West Clare coast and a 10km run on the upland cliff paths to the south of Kilkee.
A course that the likes of Keane and Gavin Noble completed in the past, Mintern beat 29 Super Series competitors this year to cross the line with a time of 2:03:43.
He is certainly one to watch out for, according to the chairman of his club.
“Chris has a huge future. He’s been spectacularly good the last couple of years and he only turned 22 last week. He’s not one-dimensional either as he just finished his Maths degree in UCC. His training was a little bit slow due to college but in a few weeks he was back at top fitness.”
O’Neill added: “That was the first time he ever did Hell to the West and he won his first national title there. It’s a tough, tough race too, believe me.”
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