British former world champion Helen Jenkins raced to an impressive victory in the London leg of the triathlon world championship series Saturday to put her in great heart for next year's Olympic race on the same Hyde Park course.
Jenkins was world champion in 2008 but had never previously won a leg of the International Triathlon Union world series. However, she broke her duck in style in front of her home fans to effectively book her place in the 2012 Games.
The Olympic course had been expected to be fast and heavily favoring the stronger runners, with no hills to break up the 40km cycling leg. It proved to be the case with a huge pack of around 50 athletes coming through the 1,500m swim in the Serpentine and the bike together.
Jenkins was right among them and used her run speed over the 10km final leg to forge clear and eventually win in two hours, 34 seconds, seven seconds ahead of America's Gwen Jorgensen, with Anja Dittmer of Germany another eight seconds back in third.
"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 team mate Kerry Lang. I was just trying to sit with her as she's riding really well and then I hit the run and I thought, I'll just see how I can do. But I had to keep pushing right to the end."
Jorgensen proved the fastest run split of the day - 33 minutes 43 seconds - to secure her place on the Unites States team having been spotted in athletics and fast-tracked into the sport by USA Triathlon.
"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," she said.
Dittmer snatched third in a mass sprint finish to become the first athlete to qualify for all four Olympic Games triathlons after the sport was first held in Sydney 2000.
The men's event is held Sunday when 2010 world champion Alistair Brownlee is favorite to complete a British weekend double.