I feel so lucky to chase this dream
Triathlete Carolyn Hayes started her Olympic qualification process late, but the 33-year-old Limerick doctor is making a remarkable late surge that could take her all the way to Tokyo.
The qualification period for the triathlon spans a period of two years. The first block was from May 2018 to May 2019. The second window should have been from May 2019 to May 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed things by a year. It is only now that things are starting to boil.
Each athlete can count their best six races in each qualifying period for qualifying, with points accrued based on the results. These points count towards your world ranking.
The World Cup events and the World Triathlon Series provide opportunities to collect Olympic points. Last Sunday in Lisbon, Hayes took a giant leap towards the Games when she clinched a stunning second place finish in the World Cup triathlon. It was a huge effort that now leaves her in the driver’s seat to board the plane to Japan.
“There were so many big names on that starting list. I just wanted to see where I was after the long layoff with Covid,” she told RTÉ Sport.
“I just wanted to go. I’m so glad and glad I did. I just signed up.
“I didn’t expect to be on the podium when I saw these names, but at the same time, I knew that I had worked really hard and that the training was there, that I was able to produce a good performance. I’m a little bit tired today … but it was totally worth it! “
Look to the end for a cúpla focal length as Gaeilge🙌☘
– Ireland Triathlon (@tri_ireland) May 24, 2021
Hayes’ professional commitments meant she had to do a bit of catching up. There were sacrifices, but she is loath to describe them as such.
“I’m from Newcastlewest in Co Limerick. My coaches Gavin Noble and Eanna McGrath are based in Co Wicklow and Base2Race in Dublin. To make the Olympic dream come true, I had to be fully committed.
“I moved to Wicklow. I live there with a family, Yvonne and Liam Williams. I train at Greystones and also at Base To Race. Thanks to Sport Ireland, I was able to continue my swimming at the National Aquatic Center .
“All I want is to go to the Olympics. Every day I wake up, I think about that. Moving to Wicklow and having Eanna and Gavin, I see them every day. Probably the last two years. “I saw my coach every day. We are both extremely motivated. The weekend was very special to be able to share this with him.
“I don’t know if I consider this a sacrifice. I feel very lucky to be able to pursue this dream. I guess I am very lucky to have my career prepared for when I step away from triathlon. I have to say that I had incredible support from the Irish Medical Council and the College of Anaesthesiologists.
“Triathlon in general is an incredible sport. You meet great people. I am incredibly lucky and lucky to be able to do this. I know I couldn’t do it without the support of everyone – family, sponsor friends. I really appreciate it Hope it pays off. It’s up to me to make sure that’s the case. “
Hayes is now completely focused on passing the line as she prepares for three huge weeks.
“After the result in Lisbon this weekend, I moved my ranking from 52nd place in the world to 39th,” she added.
“I wanted 300 points and came away with 463. It’s a good safety stamp and I just hope that is enough to see me there. I know I have to keep running.
“The world triathlon has decided to open the qualification for the Olympics earlier this month. They have five races that would contribute to the Olympic ranking so some athletes have to do five races in five different countries.
“I would put my name on one of those athletes but I hope I might only have to do three of the five races. Japan was the first race, Lisbon was the second, there is one race this weekend in Sardinia, then the next big race for me that I will be doing will be the World Triathlon Series in Leeds which will take place on June 6th and 7th.
“The last race before qualifying is over will be in Huatulco, Mexico. It’s June 14. When these races are over, no one can do anything else to secure their Olympic spot. There is a lot going on. Game.”