The ITU World Triathlon women’s event took place yesterday for the second race of the season in San Diego, USA. In perfect race conditions, Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins lived up to the expectations by winning the gold medal in a comfortable time of 1 hour, 58 minutes and 21 seconds.
She was well ahead of her nearest rival, Australia’s Erin Densham who finished just over a minute behind the British female Triathlete. Laura Bennett also had an extremely good race as the American athlete finished in Bronze position which also gave her the final women’s slot in the USA Olympic team for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Helen Jenkins vs. Erin Densham
With the home crowd edging her on, Densham was expected to win but on a level field, Helen Jenkins stormed to victory in convincing fashion.
Despite already being confirmed on the Great Britain Olympic team for the London 2012 Games, Helen Jenkins will still be trying to defend her current ITU World Championship title and her performance at San Diego will have put her one step on her way to achieving this. The win put her top of the current ITU World Triathlon standings after 2 races.
Eight women lead the event in San Diego after a breakaway in the bike section to put them 2 minutes and 30 seconds ahead coming out of the 2nd transition, but it was the British Jenkins and Australia’s Erin Densham’s who decided to up the ante and were at the front in the beginning of the first lap of the run. Erin Densham is still trying to claim her Olympic spot on the Australian team and she tried to lose Helen Jenkins during the second lap and looked to gain a 10 metres lead in front of the British athlete.
1st and 2nd Separated by Over a Minute
However as Erin Densham thought she had a big enough lead, Helen Jenkins proved what a tremendous Triathlete she is as she showed just how much she had left in the tank by steaming ahead of Erin Densham in the latter stages of the race to put the distance between her and Erin Densham to just over a minute when they both crossed the finishing line.
Despite not winning the San Diego event, Erin Densham has now finished 1st and 2nd in the opening two events in the ITU World Triathlon series which is an incredible start to the season. She was also the first Australian to cross the line with Emma Moffatt the nearest Australian to her in ninth and she has already been confirmed in the Triathlon team for Australia for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Emma Snowsill who is another Australian hopeful for the Olympics only managed to finish in 17th which will be a bitter disappointment for the former Olympic gold medallist.
Selection for the Olympic American Triathlete Team
The event in San Diego was the biggest opportunity for the USA National Olympic Committee to select their American Triathletes for the London Games. The criteria were already set for the Triathletes before the race so they knew what was demanded of them if they wanted to travel to London later this year to compete at the Olympics. The qualification criteria set by the USA National committee for the women’s event states that a top-nine finish will automatically qualify them for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
If more than 1 woman places amongst the top nine athletes in the San Diego event, the top finisher of the multiple athletes will secure the spot on the US Olympic team.
If none of the US women athletes competing in the San Diego event finish in the top nine, then the US national committee for Triathlon will decide on whom to take with them to the London 2012 Games.
First Podium Place for Laura Bennett
Laura Bennett was one of them female Triathletes hoping to win a place in the Olympic team and she did with an impressive performance in San Diego. With home advantage on her side as well, she capped off an impressive event in 3rd position. It was her first ever series podium and what a perfect time to choose it as it confirmed her place at London 2012 for her second consecutive appearance in the Olympic Games. Laura Bennett was cruelly denied in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as she finished 4th, narrowly finishing outside the podium and will be hoping to go 1 better this year in London. She now puts her name beside Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff as the 3 female Triathletes for team USA.
There was also a very notable performance from Flora Duffy. Flora Duffy of Bermuda had only finished celebrating by the time she arrived in USA for the first ITU race held in San Diego as Duffy won the WTF Huatulco race just last weekend in Mexico. Duffy continued her good reign of form by finishing 6th in the Elite women’s race yesterday. Her position of 6th further boosted her up the officials Women’s Olympic Rankings for London 2012 and is now in 33rd position.
Despite her rise of 11 positions up the Olympic Rankings ladder, she was beaten by Germany’s Anne Haug whose performance at the San Diego event raised her 14 positions. Anne Haug also had the proud achievement of being only the 2nd female athlete at the event to run under 34 minutes, an achievement she shared with the San Diego winner, Helen Jenkins. It’s a big boost to her own Olympic hopefuls as her 7th placed finish enhances her chances of representing Germany. Anja Dittmer is the only confirmed women for Germany so far and Anne Haug is very close to overtaking Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf which would mean Germany would get 3 slots to the London 2012 Games compared to Switzerland’s two slots.
Jessica Harrison of France finished in 4th whilst Sarah Haskins of America finished in 8th and Ashley Gentle just finished in the top 10 which gave Australia 3 athletes in the top 10 for the event in San Diego.