TWELVE months is a long time in sport, just ask Strabane native Aidan McGlynn.
One year ago the 38 year-old was celebrating his best ever finish at an ITU Paratriathlon World Cup event when he finished second in his class at the final round in Sarasota, Florida.
Ahead of this season, the Tyrone man was determined to use this season to get himself in peak condition for Olympic qualification, which runs from June 2019 to June 2020.
Unfortunately for Aidan, injury has all but put paid to those dreams in 2018 and although nowhere near in the condition he would have hoped to be at this stage of the year, he travelled to America determined to finish only his second event of the season – the race in Sarasota should have been his eighth!
“[It was my] first race in a while. 2018 has been a very difficult year due to injury. Having to miss the biggest part of this season has been very difficult to accept, this year has been fraught with lots of low moments, one after the other (life throwing curved balls) but I’ve come out the other side, with the help of great family and friends around me,” he explained.
Unfortunately for Aidan, his hopes of a good result were also dented when, before the race started, it was changed to a duathlon as the water quality in Florida wasn’t up to standard.
Having been an international class swimmer, representng Ireland at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, that meant he missed out on his strongest discipline.
Regardless, he toed the start line and delivered an unbelievabley courageous performance, that saw him forced to carry his bike and battle blisters along the way.
“It was always going to be a struggle with only a few weeks of training under the belt at this level,” he acknowledged.
“I felt completely exposed during the race, [the] main thought in my head during it was how to get better, how to improve – I guess that’s competitive sport it gives you so many mixed emotions on race day.
“After the first run I was way of the pace, [the] guys at the front [were] just too quick. [The] first two laps on the bike didn’t feel good, [and on the] last lap I punctured with 1.5K to go.
“My instant thought was to pull out and get a DNF but then I thought I could get off my bike, throw it over my shoulder and run 1K to transition and still finish the race!
“So that’s exactly what I did. I ran with 1000m to go with my bike on my shoulder with a few odd looks from some of the race officials (still within the rules).
“By the time I made it into T2 my feet were in bits, four huge blisters on one foot, racked the bike, running shoes on and away I went on the final run.
“As I ran out of T2 I got such a huge cheer from those in the grandstand which spurred me on but my day was well over.
“Anyway, [I] finished the race way down on time and position [but I’m] not dwelling on what’s been,” he concluded.
Determined to move on from what has been a frustrating and disappointing 12 months, Aidan now heads to Madeira (Portugal) next week for the final ITU World Cup race of the season in Funchal before putting in a gruelling winter program ahead of his first 2019 World Cup race in Tasmania (Australia) in March.