Australia’s Emma Jackson and Emma Snowsill have produced bold showings to finish fourth and fifth respectively in the ITU Dextro Energy Triathlon World Championship race and Olympic test event in London
Jackson ran her way into second place on the first half of the run as she tried desperately to stay in touch with eventual winner, Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins as Snowsill found her second wind.
The Australians, like so many of the elite field, were chasing automatic Olympic selection for the 2012 Games in this benchmark event, but they had to win the event to have any chance, with Jenkins, US rookie Gwen Jorgensen second and powerful German Anja Dittmer third filling the podium.
In a frantic charge to the finish it was Jackson, the current Under 23 World Champion, who came again to surge past Snowsill, as she did in Hamburg, two weeks ago and put her best foot forward for selection.
Jackson powered across the line just ahead of Snowsill with reigning World Junior Champion Ashleigh Gentle eighth; reigning two-time World Champion Emma Moffatt 15th and another former under 23 world champion Felicity Abram 22nd, Annabel Luxford 46th with Beijing Olympian Erin Densham recording a DNF.
Moffatt (fifth) Jackson (ninth) and Snowsill (tenth) are all well placed on the all-important ITU Rankings, and are well and truly in the hunt.
Australia’s High Performance Manager Michael Flynn praised the Australian girls for the way they raced in a red-not field.
â€œEmma Jackson hasn’t turned 20 yet and to back up from her second place finish in Hamburg and race the way she raced was fantastic,â€ said Flynn.
â€œSnowsill showed she was continuing to get back to where she needs to be and her run was very impressive indeed, as was Ashleigh Gentle’s performance to finish inside the top 10 in her first ever World Championship race.
â€œThen there was Moffatt in 15th, who ran hard but looked a little tired to me so we won’t know how she is until she cools down.
â€œBut overall it would have been nice to hit the podium and have someone gain automatic selection for next year but you cannot fault our tenacity and our consistency – to have three girls in the top ten is very encouraging indeed.â€
The race started with a one-lap, 1.5km swim in The Serpentine recreation lake in Hyde Park, which is so-named because of its snakelike, curving shape.
It was then through T1 and a seven-lap 40km bike circuit that circled Buckingham Palace, taking the field under the famous Wellington Arch and through Hyde Park before a four-lap, 10km run that finished back in Hyde Park.
The non-wetsuit water temperature of 21.5 degrees certainly suited the slender build of the Olympic champion, Snowsill, a noted swimmer who started her sporting career as an age grouper on the Gold Coast.
The German-based Snowsill was able to swim her own race in the top six for most of the 1500m swim, as did Moffatt.
The two top ranked Australians came out of the water well positioned just behind the leading US trio Sarah Haskins, Sarah Groff and Laura Bennett with British girl Kerry Lang also well placed.
Through the first half of the bike, the field was split into three groups with a 34-strong group, including Snowsill, Moffatt and fellow Australian, the experienced former world number one Luxford.
The chase group, which included Gentle and Jackson were led by world’s number one Barbara Riveros Diaz (Chile) and they gradually cut the lead from over a minute on the opening lap to 38 seconds with two laps remaining and a coming together was inevitable.
The chase pack timed their arrival to perfection with Jackson, Abram and Gentle joining Moffatt, Snowsill and Luxford through the transition to the run, with over 50 athletes streaming through the change over.
In the early stages of the run, Moffatt and Snowsill were well placed in a lead group of 15 as was Jackson, who had sat towards the back of the bike chase pack, saving her legs.
The Australians started to push the pace into the opening run lap with the three Emmas and noted runner and Edmonton World Cup winner Gentle.
Jackson looked relaxed in the early part of the run as Canada’s triple ITU winner Paula Findlay also pushed hard to ensure she finished in the top eight (Canada’s automatic selection policy).
The Brits, like the Australians, were vying for Olympic selection with Jenkins and Jodie Stimpson, starting to pick up the pace with Japan’s Yuka Sato.
But Jackson quickly dropped Snowsill and Moffatt as she pushed into second place behind Jenkins with two laps remaining, putting herself in a strong position, as some of the best triathletes in the world chased hard for automatic Olympic selection.
Jenkins looked to be in control with the bell lap as the Americans Gwen Jorgensen and Groff caught Jackson as Snowsill took on the chase moving into fifth at a rate of knots.
Rookie Jorgensen, a former College swimmer and runner from Iowa, moved into second with Groff and Jackson working hard to hold Snowsill off.
With 1500m to run, it was Snowsill, Germany’s experienced Dittmer and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt who had Jorgensen in their sights in a frantic run to the finish.
But it was Jenkins who stole the show in front of her home crowd who recorded her first ever World Championship race win and notch a place on the Olympic team who proved too good for Jorgensen and the strong finishing Dittmer, making her fourth Olympic team.
Australia’s men will now take to the course tomorrow with Brad Kahlefeldt, Chris McCormack, Brendan Sexton, Aaron Royal and James Seear diving into the Serpentine dive at 10pm (AEST) chasing their automatic selection dream.
|12||Barbara Riveros Diaz||CHI||2:01:29||0:20:32||1:05:07||0:34:40|
|16||Sarissa De Vries||NED||2:01:37||0:19:32||1:06:02||0:34:43|