The only way of finding the limits of possible is by going beyond the the impossible (arthur c clark)
Being the youngest or the smallest doesn’t bother the triathlete from Mayo, Ireland. Speaking with his father John, he puts it simply “its not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog” that counts. Con seems never to be dismayed by the size of the task at hand. Traveling to NewZealand to compete is just another part of his job description for the 17 year old triathlete.
Gaining experience as a young athlete is the key to long term success, being able to measure yourself against the best in the world and knowing what to do to take yourself to the next level has been a season long adventure for the Doherty Family. The Countries Con has been to this year may sound exotic but living out of a suitcase on bread and water is not easy. It is not all beaches and cocktails. Its travel, race, get points, feel good, feel bad, feel sick, it doesn’t matter its get the job done. Con’s journey this summer has taken him as far as Israel for the european championships, to the 4 corners of Spain, Portugal, England, Czech Republic,Holland,Belguim I didnt write the rest of the list as I sat wide eyed and scared to ask how he funded himself. John his father just laughed he what I was thinking. He spoke of a few companies locally who would hopefully come on board to help out next season but in general its best to not think about it.
Con has seen his swimming go from strength to strength after joining Castlebar swim club. Con revels in being challenged and being apart of strong swim squad being pushed day in day out is priority number one for young triathletes with aspirations. Cycling with the Covey Wheelers at weekends and Sessions under Stephan and David has seen Con command attention internationally at races throughout the season.
What have the last two years been like for Con and aiming at his long term goal of Olympic Gold??
The business end of any sports season typically ends with a grand finally, when the athlete’s results hopefully reflect the merits of their talent and efforts, and this is was very much the case for emerging Westport Tri athlete Con Doherty.
The season started in limerick in April by claiming the National Junior Duathlon (Run / Bike) championship which qualified him to represent Ireland at European level. Next up was the Triathlon (Swim / Bike / Run) National Championships at the National Aquatic centre Dublin. A comprehensive victory secured the Championship while also acquiring points towards a 4 race national series.
Irish representation at the Junior European Triathlon Championships in France had to be forgone due to a clash with the Junior Certificate exams. Total dominance of the National series with outright wins in Fingall, 2 Province Lanesboruagh, and Brain Buru Clare seen him clinch the National series with one race remaining.
The season finally comprised of the prestigious Dublin City Triathlon, with over a 1000 competitors and the British National championship on consecutive weekends. Even the best laid plans can come undone as Con arrived in transition 2 after his 20 Kilometre cycle through the Phoenix Park to find his running shoes were missing. After spending over 2 minutes searching and giving up a comfortable lead, he decided to run the 5 Kilometres through the streets of Dublin in his bare feet. To his amazement and everyone else he still managed to win the race only to find himself disqualified because he had ran bare foot. Subsequently he discovered that another competitor had inadvertently covered his runners with their wet suit.
Next up was the British Triathlon Youth Championship. In a field that included the current European gold medallist the standards would provide a real measure of performance with a top 6 finish being the target. A solid swim, followed by strong bike set the scene for a competitive Run. 300 meters into the run an injection of speed moved him from forth to first. With a lead established he pulled away from the field securing a great victory for Ireland.
Irish junior and British Youth Triathlon Champion in the same week, however the highlight of his year came at a charity race in aid of Temple Street Children’s hospital where he had the opportunity to meet and race against his Heroes Allester and Johnny Brownlee who encouraged him consider targeting the junior world championships of the following year.
Inspiration drives dedication and with focused winter training under the watchful eye of his Triathlon coach Stephen Teeling lynch , athletics coaches Gerry Conroy and Adell Mc Allester and Swim Coach Marion English he hit the 2012 season with a clear set of objectives. Total dominance of the season opening Duathlon championships with wins in Connemara and Ennis facilitated Irish selection for his first European Triathlon Cup race in Portugal. In a strong field of 76 of Europe’s best a top 10 finish by the youngest athlete in the field secured selection for the European championship in Israel. Victory in The Irish Junior championship at Fingall qualified him for the British Championship in Blenheim Oxford which turned out to be a dream come true, as Alistair Brownlee decided to use the same race to evaluate his Olympic preparation, as he recovered from an Achilles injury. In a field that contained 4 world champions past and present, in addition to the elite athletes of the worlds current power house, it was somewhat of a shock to the organisers to see a 16year old Irish Boy being next up out of transition two, directly behind the guys who secured Gold and Bronze in London Later in the Summer. An ankle injury received earlier in the week while playing on a bouncing castle with his Brother s flared up mid way through the run which curtailed his speed. A Second Place finish In the British Junior championship and a sixth place overall was a good return for the pain. Positive reinforcement from Johnnie Brownlee in particular, saw the targeting of quality European Cup races in Holland, and the Czech Republic which resulted in strong 9th and 7th place finishes. Irish Legend Brain Kean mentoring on race craft helped further hone skills that were to become very evident in the National Race series, with outright wins in races that included over 3000 competitors such Limerick, Triathy, TriAthlone, and Sligo. By the end of his 16th year the Irish Junior national Triathlon series was cemented with two years of undefeated racing.
European Junior top 10 ranking on merit enabled the chance to race at world level. Somewhat ahead of plan and with a limited understanding, the decision has been taken to Travel to, the beautiful city of Auckland in New Zeeland, to see what the world has to offer by way of completion. Con is very grateful to his all his coaches especially Stephan, all the people of Westport, Castlebar, Mayo and Donegal who give up freely of their time to support him and help with the development of youth and junior sport across Ireland, without which this journey could not have started. The world has just become his new play room, as he heads off to the furthers most point on the planet from home to race on a course, designed by a Doherty, for a Doherty
One step at a time onwards and upwards.