Mayo man Aichlinn O’Reilly took his professional IRONMAN debut by storm over the weekend in Busselton, Western Australia, smashing the former Irish Record and becoming the first Irish athlete to dip below the 8-hour mark over the IRONMAN distance.
Aichlinn was the 2022 Long Distance Triathlon National Champion and a no stranger to the podium at shorter distances. He has previously represented Ireland at Junior European Cup and European Cup level in his career; however, the move to focusing on longer-distance racing in more recent times is clearly paying dividends.
The previous record was set by Bryan McCrystal in 2018 in Roth at 8 hours 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Aichlinn swam the 3.9km in 47 minutes, 46 seconds, and cycled the 180km in 4 hours 11minutes, 31 seconds, before completing the marathon distance in 2 hours, 54 minutes and 13 seconds, for a new Irish record of 7 hours 59 minutes and 4 seconds.
Speaking after the race, Aichlinn told us, “This race means an awful lot to me. I have been working back home in Westport for last couple of years and I managed to save up enough to give me a 7 week [full-time] training block in Australia where I was fully dedicated and committed to training.
“Racing against full time professionals and feeling like I’m as good as them gives me massive confidence for the future and only makes me more eager to compete again.
“Having the support of Maeve, my girlfriend, and my parents ever since I started triathlon has been massive as well as all the good luck messages from friends back home. All the congrats messages have been amazing as well.
“On a final note while I’m delighted with this performance and result I feel it is a true reflection of where I am currently at performance wise but I know I still have lots of room to improve and feel I can be truly competitive at the highest level which is exactly what I’m aiming for.”
The result placed him 6th in a strong field, with Danish athlete Daniel Baekkegaard – the current European 70.3 Champion, securing the overall win. However, Aichlinn O’Reilly is one to watch on the IRONMAN Pro scene as he starts his professional long distance career as the fastest ever Irishman over the distance and has made clear it’s only the beginning.
You can find the full results HERE.