IT HAS been a remarkable season for local triathlete Pete Neill, whose consistency at the top of the field saw him finish second overall in the Irish National Series in his highly competitive age group.
This overall standing was thanks to coming first in his class in the Dublin City Triathlon over the Olympic distance on August 24, a week after finishing an impressive second overall in the Groomsport Half Ironman.
The 42-year-old former soccer star followed these great results up with yet another first place in the 40-44 age group – and ninth overall – at the Belfast Titanic (Olympic) Triathlon.
His combined points from the year saw Pete grab second place overall in Ireland behind a legend of the sport, Trevor Woods, who has been competing at a top level for the past two decades.
Pete, who only took up the sport in 2010, has now qualified to represent Ireland in next year’s World Championship event in Chicago.
Reflecting on his achievements, the Ulster Herald Sports Personality of the Month winner for August, admitted that he had a summer to savour, be it running, swimming or cycling.
“Everything went well for me. I finished third in my age group in Ireland in 2012 so I am delighted to go one better. My target this year was the National Series and second was a great result for me as I’m in the same group as Trevor Woods, who is originally from the Omagh area but has lived in Cork for years. He is extremely good and has been competing for the past 20 years so to finish second to him is a great achievement for myself.”
Living in the foothills of the Gortin Glens, the Omagh Triathlon Club member said he has the perfect training facilities for cycling and running in the hills and even open water swimming in the lakes.
“I actually struggled with my running early on in the season as I was concentrating so much on the bike and swim. I just saved the run for race days so as I competed in more events that aspect of my race started to come together. When the pool opened in July I was able to get some extra swimming training done and made some good improvements. Getting out of the water that bit quicker gave me more chance on the bike and then my run is the strongest of the three.
“I was feeling really good in August and was really pleased to finish second overall in the Groomsport Half Ironman, which was a National Series event as was Dublin a week later over the shorter Olympic distance. I prefer the longer races from Olympic up as it allows me to settle into my race better and gives me a better chance of catching the better swimmers on the bike or run.”
Having previously represented Ireland at the World Championships around the London Olympic course in 2013, Pete said it would be an honour to don the green tri-suit again.
“Representing Ireland in London was an amazing experience. The crowds in places were ten deep cheering us on, screaming my name as I went past. It is great to qualify to represent Ireland again next year, but it is a big undertaking to travel to compete in America so I will have to assess things through the winter and see if it is possible.”
FULL STORY IN TODAY’S ULSTER HERALD