Fine Olympic debut for Dr. Carolyn Hayes

First-time Olympian Dr. Carolyn Hayes of Newcastle West can feel justifiably proud of her middle of the field placing in the Women’s Triathlon in Tokyo on Tuesday morning.
She produced a swift final leg to finish 23rd at her first Olympics, the West Limerick athlete clocking an impressive 34:43 10km run to finish in 2:02:10, just six and a half minutes behind Flora Duffy, who won Bermuda its first ever gold medal at the Games.
It was a commendable display from Carolyn (33), who only took up the sport in her mid-20s, having previously represented Ireland at water polo.
“I’m happy enough with the performance,” Carolyn reflected. “I came for a better result but, given where I came from in the last few years, I have to be happy with it. The Olympics is the pinnacle of sport and I always hoped I’d get here; I probably didn’t believe I would. It’s a bit surreal, actually.”
After a chaotic, delayed start to the race (swim) in wet and windy weather, Carolyn found herself towards the back of the field as she entered the first transition, but she gradually picked her way through the pack on the bike and was even more impressive on the run, clocking the 10th fastest final leg in the field.
Carolyn put her medical career on hold in 2018 to train full-time with the goal of reaching the Tokyo Games, and she has progressed rapidly in the years since, winning World Cup silver in Kazakhstan in 2019 and then finishing sixth at the European Champ-ionship.
In 2021 she was second, behind former Olympic champion Nicola Spirig, at the World Cup in Lisbon, and also secured a top ten at the World Championships.
Carolyn added that she was extremely grateful for the support received from afar in the run-up to her historic Olympics start.
“The phone has been inundated with messages and it means an awful lot,” she said. “I want to say a big thank you to my parents and my family – without them I wouldn’t be here today.”