Kelly kicks off triathlon bid

by Jonny Stapleton
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Dublin’s Shannon Kelly kicked off her first year as a full-time professional triathlete on Saturday at the Asia Triathlon Cup & South Asian Triathlon Championships in Pokhara, Nepal.

“I was born in inchicore/kilmainham and grew up in Lucan going to the national all girls school there and then went to mount sackville secondary school in the phoenix park for my exam years. Ucd for my primary degree then university of Limerick for med school and now trinity for my postgraduate

“I moved to Waterford for my intern year working as a junior doctor during Covid and relocated with my family there so I can look after my mum a bit more.”

The race is a key first step in a year where she hopes to help Ireland qualify a team for the mixed relay at the Paris Olympics, with her eyes firmly set on individual success at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

She comments “After 8 weeks at altitude in the Chinese mountains I am ready to begin my season of racing in the Irish colours at the South Asian Championships and Continental Cup in Nepal.

 “This will be my first of a handful of back-to-back races in Asia. It is a real unknown how the body will react after my first altitude camp but I’m excited to show some great consistency over the past few weeks in my race results on the World Triathlon circuit.”

The young junior doctor from Dublin, who overcame a blood clot in her heart to embark on a career as an elite triathlete, has turned her attention to full time training and racing as a professional elite triathlete this year.

Having been introduced to triathlon during her university years, Shannon has progressed steadily as an amateur and part-time athlete since 2021.

Though only just at the start of her elite career, she has firmly established herself as a talent for the future, having become a dominant force in her Irish domestic racing placing with podiums at National Championships in 2021 and 2022 and winning the King of Greystones Triathlon three years running (2021-23).

In 2023, she stepped up onto the international stage at continental cups and was selected to compete at her first major championships as part of Ireland’s Senior Elite Mixed Team Relay at the European Championships in Balikesir, Turkey.

In late 2023, she also found a new coach, who has guided Olympic and Ironman World Champions and has been at his training camp in China (as he is also the Chinese national team coach) the last two months at altitude in the Yuxi Yunnan province.

After the race in Nepal, she will race two World Cup races in China before returning to Ireland for a summer of European racing.

Shannon adds; “ Though just at the start of my journey, I have big ambitions to carry the Irish flag to success in Olympic distance but also Ironman triathlon during my career. I really hope I can inspire more young women into competitive sport or to just chase their own dreams.”

An advocate for balancing education with sport, the outdoors and movement as medicine, Shannon is passionate about inspired people individual high performance as well as the health and wellbeing of the wider community.

Much of her childhood was spent in her dad’s martial arts gym where the love and discipline of sport was instilled.

While she now trains up to 30 hours a week – splitting her time between Waterford and Spain and Asia, she still finds time to take an active role supporting numerous charities, clubs and events and is an ambassador for the Gavin Glynn Foundation.

“Whilst qualifying and working as a junior doctor, I got to understand the important work that charities like the Gavin Glynn Foundation do and I will spend my life trying to support them wether through sport or medical practice” adds Shannon.

Shannon is grateful for the support of local Irish businesses including Noco IQ and Yonobi and Peak Sports Performance but is currently seeking support from Irish companies and business man to help on the journey.

She comments “I have gone all in to chase this dream and to hopefully inspire other young women into sport and to chase their dreams.

“The flight cost home right now is a worry but you only get one chance in life to be your best human.

“I am grateful to the people who have helped me and hopefully I can bring some others along on the journey.”

Follow Shannon on her journey to LA and beyond on Instagram @shannonamykelly

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