Ill Jenkins wins London Olympic Games preview triathlon
Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins couldn’t have planned a more perfect time or place for her first Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series win, running clear of the field to claim gold in the London 2012 Olympic Games preview in Hyde Park.
This weekend’s Dextro Energy Triathlon Series round is the first and last time that athletes can race the Olympic course before the London 2012 Games and despite having a slight cold, the 2008 World Champion powered away in the run to win by seven seconds. In the process, she met the British Triathlon Federation’s qualification criteria to book her place on team GB for 2012, gained some serious confidence on the course and broke free of her series bridesmaid tag. Before this race Jenkins had a total of six Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series medals, including two silvers in 2011, but not one gold. Until now. She said afterwards it hadn’t been easy.
“Oh, it hurt so much, normally when you win you are like ‘oh yeah, its easy’, but that hurt,” Jenkins said. “I didn’t feel great in the swim, and the bike was pretty easy but my legs didn’t feel great.
“I was just trying to follow my teammate Kerry Lang, I was just trying to sit with her as she’s riding really well, so I was just like, follow Kerry and I’ll be safe and then I hit the run and I thought, I’ll just see how I can do, I’m not sure how I’ll do, and I was at the front so kept running, kept running and someone said, ‘you’ve got a gap,’ and I thought, I’d better keep pushing on.
“The last bit, someone said 20 seconds and I thought if I blow up I’m still going to lose, so I had to keep pushing right to the end.”
Jenkins was with the leaders throughout the whole race, as yet another series title this year came down to an epic showdown in the run. A 34-women lead group formed out of the swim included Jenkins, Australian’s Emma Moffatt and Emma Snowsill, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, the USA’s Laura Bennett, Sarah Groff and Sarah Haskins, New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt and Canadian Paula Findlay. They established a minute lead on the chase pack of similar size in the first bike lap. But that chase, led by Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) and Kirsten Sweetland (CAN), cut that time back over the seven laps and eventually bridged it, resulting in about 50 athletes hitting T2 together. From there, Jenkins set the pace and then went alone for almost the final two laps as an intruiging battle for points, podium positions and Olympic qualification unfolded behind her.
In the end Jorgensen pulled out the biggest surprise and the fastest run split of the day – 33 minutes 43 seconds – to claim silver and her spot on Team USA for 2012, meeting USA Triathlon’s Olympic qualification criteria. It will be Jorgensen’s first Olympic Games and will complete an amazing transition, after she was plucked from a promising athletics career as part of a USA Triathlon talent identification programme. In London, she also was part of that bike chase pack that bridged the gap, coming from behind to the podium.
“It’s just surreal, we have so many great people in the U.S., it’s just an honour to be going,” Jorgensen said. “It really is surreal and give credit for USAT for coming to me, I mean I wouldn’t have even known about this without them, so it’s awesome.”
In a sprint for third, with Snowsill, Emma Jackson, Hewitt and Groff all in the mix, triple Olympian Dittmer turned on her trademark dash to secure bronze. In doing so, Dittmer became the first triathlete to qualify for four Olympics, meeting the German qualifying criteria of a top-12 finish.
“I’m really happy and speechless,” Dittmer said. “I think just with my experience, I just put it all together on the day that it really counted and yeah, I just wanted to go to my fourth Olympics. I pushed really really hard and I just focused on this race, and the last weeks went really really well, so I really believed I could make it and I just did it. It’s another dream come true.”
Jackson finished fourth and Snowsill fifth, continuing on their impressive form from Hamburg. Ashleigh Gentle also completed an excellent run to finish in ninth, giving Australia three inside the top 10. But as the Australian selection criteria for London depended on a win, the Australian team for London didn’t become any clearer. It did for Hewitt and Groff though, both met their National Federation qualification criteria and booked their spots on the start line in London.
In the overall rankings, Riveros Diaz held onto the lead with her 12th place finish. Findlay, the defending London champion who had won every other series race she’d competed in this year, finished in 29th spot after a hip injury hampered her preparation. Findlay needed a top eight finish to secure her spot in London, but will have plenty more chances to secure it before next year. Riveros Diaz has 2498 points to lead the rankings, Hewitt moves into second place overall with 2493 points, while Findlay holds onto third with 2490 points. Jenkins is in fourth with 2346 points. The next Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series round is in Lausanne, which doubles as the sprint distance world titles, before Beijing’s Grand Final in September.
Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship London – August 6, 2011
Final Results – Elite Women – 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Gold – Helen Jenkins (GBR) – 02:00:34
Silver – Gwen Jorgensen (USA) – 02:00:41
Bronze – Anja Dittmer (GER) – 02:00:49
4th – Emma Jackson (AUS) – 02:00:51
5th – Emma Snowsill (AUS) – 02:00:52
6th – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) – 02:00:54
7th – Sarah Groff (USA) – 02:00:58
8th – Nicola Spirig (SUI) – 02:01:04
9th – Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) – 02:01:07
10th – Emmie Charayron (FRA) – 02:01:10