Gavin Noble is set to represent Ireland at the 2012 Olympic Games. The Enniskillen triathlete will be the first ever man from Ireland to contest the gruelling Olympic event when he lines up alongside the world's best on August 7 in London.
The selection for the Games was made after last Sunday's Madrid ITU World Triathlon. Going into the final qualifying event Gavin was lying 44th in the rankings, with the top 55 destined to make the trip to London. Gavin went into the race with a niggling injury hanging over him, and when he realised those behind him would not overhaul him he pulled out to prevent further damage.
"It has been a tough couple of months as you know and I have been racing in an injured state but I did what had to be done and secured my spot," he said. "It has been an indifferent year so far I have to admit but the goal has been Olympic Qualification and that is what is most important." Stress fractures and a more recent knee problem had threatened to derail Gavin's quest for qualification, and he was a relieved man when he finally received confirmation of his place in the team. "It is getting very close now to the games and so the priority over the last few weeks has to get me healthy, secure my spot and tactically not do anything to incur any more rehab time than is needed," he revealed. "In Madrid I was never confident I would be able to run but I did start it in a decent position and when seeing my competition was well down on the positions they needed to overtake me in terms of rankings I pulled out. I hate to pull out but one has to look at the bigger picture sometimes and it doesn't get any bigger than London this summer." After the opening swim in Madrid Gavin found himself 1 minute 12 seconds adrift of the leading pack. He settled into the third group of riders in the 40 kilometre cycle, and they started to haul in the group ahead, catching them just before the changeover. The lead pack of 9 was well out of sight having up a 2 minute advantage going into the 10km run, and within a several kilometres it became obvious Gavin was struggling to match his normal pace. With Triathlon Ireland team officials gathering information on the runners who could have threatened Gavin's selection it soon became obvious that his Olympic place was secure, and he pulled up to avoid any further problems.
His thoughts have now turned to the showpiece games, and he will be working hard to ensure he is in perfect conditions for his big day. "Early this week I'll travel to Limerick and get treated by my friend and Olympic team physio Ger Hartmann," he revealed. "I'll also then stay in Limerick and make use of a new Altitude facility there for training before racing hopefully in Austria in four week's time at the next World Championship Series event."