And while clearly blessed with natural reserves of strength and endurance, and carefully nurtured by the elite team at Triathlon Ireland, her rise up through the world rankings has been in perfect sync with Olympic qualification – still the absolute pinnacle in world triathlon.
Based on the 14 best results over the last two years, Morrison was effectively safe at the end of the last year – and the opening races of 2012 were more about improving her strengths, mentally and physically, while eliminating the last of her weaknesses.
“And I know I can compete at that level. If you’re in the best shape of your life, and have the bit of luck, well I know I can compete with the best. And I just have to keep reminding myself of that. But I more or less knew from the end of last year.
“With 55 places, there was no way I could be overtaken by 40-odd people. If anything it was up to me to move up the ladder, with a few better results.”
It’s easily forgotten that the triathlon is not just a battle against yourself and your opponents, but also the conditions and the terrain. It was typically warm in Madrid last Saturday, and the 1,500-metre swim a typical scramble. Morrison exited the water in 36th place, tore into the very hilly 40km cycle, and promptly closed the 30-second gap on the leaders. She then lost around 12 seconds as the group of 30 split through the transition zone for the second time, and set off on the 10km run.
Once again she promptly closed the gap, then eased in front as they approached the second of two loops.
Shortly after that Sprig made the first kick for home, with Morrison chasing hard.