Banbridge triathlete Russell White has secured his first ever international podium during a two-week trip in Asia.
The trip consisted of two Continental Cup triathlons and the fourth and second place results sealed his spot in the top 100 in the world ranking for the first time.
In an added bonus, Russell has also been named a reserve for the Rio Olympics. He will travel to Florida at the start of August as a training partner for the Ireland team of Bryan keane and Aileen Morrison.
This in itself is an honour for the local man and if anything was to happen to Keane, White would get the call-up.
The trip began in Japan for the Osaka Continental Cup which was a sprint distance triathlon consisting of a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km Run. Russell only had five days to try and acclimatise to the testing conditions. Although not super hot at 28°C, the humidity reached an uncomfortable 87% which made for very difficult racing conditions.
Russell admitted that previously he has not had a very good track record in hot conditions, with his height and fair completion hindering him somewhat, especially compared to athletes from hotter climates who are used to these types of conditions.
Not prepared to let that stop him, Russell put in a fantastic performance which saw him finish fourth in a field of 86 competitors, agonizingly only four seconds off the podium.
Still on the hunt for his first ever international podium, he traveled on to Singapore for the second leg of his Asian adventure. The Singapore Continental Cup was raced over the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run), which is Russell’s preferred distance.
From the start, Russell showed he was going to be a big contenter as he emerged from the water in the lead after a strong swim, but with all the big names close behind it left plenty of work still to do. The 40km bike section ended up being very tactical as all of the top ranked athletes were closely marking each other’s every move, forcing the race to be decided on the 10km run.
Running is Russell’s weakest discipline but going by his recent performances, he has came on leaps and bounds over the last year. With this newfound confidence, he went out hard on the run staying among a small select group of five athletes for the first lap of 2.5km. By the halfway mark at 5km, he found himself running in second position as the field began to spread out and temperatures started to peak at 35°C.
Russell was able to stay focused and overcome the heat to secure a phenomenal second place.
These two races have topped off a fantastic run of results over the last five weeks, starting with his breakthrough performance on the highest triathlon stage finishing 11th in Leeds, World Triathlon Series. Two weeks after Russell finished 16th in European Sprint Championships and now these two top results.
Russell in now preparing to get back into a hard block of training before his next race on 3rd September; another World Triathlon Series in Edmonton Canada.
He will do that with the Olympic team in Florida. Being named a reserve for that Ireland team, on top of his new found confidence that he is able to contend at the highest level on the world stage, fuels the fire for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo; the future is looking bright for White.