Sport Northern Ireland funded athlete Aileen Morrison was first across the line in the European Triathlon Union Cup event in Antalya, Turkey.
Aileen led the swim and biked in the lead pack. She ran strongly and kicked from the lead group with about two kilometres to go, taking Slovakian opponent Mateja Simic with her. The two battled it out with Morrison finally proving too strong to take the win. Despite posting the best run split of the day, Germany's Anne Haug could not catch Morrison and Simic, and finished the race in third
Triathlon Ireland High Performance Director Chris Jones was pleased with Morrison's season opener: “Aileen showed last season that she is without doubt a world-class athlete; and she has worked hard over winter and definitely started the 2011 season much stronger and with a very clear focus on the end goal: London 2012. This result confirms this and will be a solid platform for her to build on this season.”
The next race in Morrison's calendar is the ITU World Cup event in Ishigaki, Japan on April 17. With the event currently set to go ahead, the situation in Japan withstanding, she will be joined by a host of fellow TI elites including Gavin Noble, Bryan Keane and Emma Davis.
Morrison's result places her 21st overall in the ITU standings, which determine qualification for the triathlon event in the London 2012 event.
Triathlon Ireland, who is funded by the Irish Sports Council, have set a target to qualify three athletes for the London Games. On current ITU simulated rankings, there would be three Irish triathletes on the start line in Hyde Park, but a great deal can change between now and then.