Triathlon Australia’s rising star Emma Jackson will pursue her Olympic dream with renewed vigor after finishing fourth in the overall pointscore for the Dextro Energy 2011 ITU Triathlon World Championship Series after today’s Grand Final race in Beijing.
Jackson finished 12th in the final race behind defending world champion, fellow Australian Emma Moffatt (11th), with Felicity Abram 13th and Olympic champion Emma Snowsill, who has battled the effects of a viral infection,17th.
After the race, Jackson, the former schoolgirl Cross Country champion, revealed the battle scars of a long season, with bleeding feet and a lost toe nail on her left foot.
The 20-year-old Queenslander was one of a group of 30 athletes, including her three Australian team mates, who were trapped in a chase pack on the bike, giving away two minutes to the lead group going into the final 10km run.
Jackson took off after the leaders, knowing she had to catch American Sarah Groff to take third place on the Series Pointscore won by Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins with today’s race winner, Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand second.
But the courageous youngster from Brisbane faded slightly on the final lap with Moffatt getting a second wind to pass her team mate coming in to the home stretch.
“If you told me at the start of season I would finish in fourth place on the World Championship Series pointscore I would have said you’re mad,” said a smiling Jackson after the race.
“It was certainly beyond our expectations that’s for sure and my coach Stephen Moss reminded me that our goal for the year was to go top ten so we have certainly achieved that.
“This result sets me up nicely for the next 12 months and I’m excited and looking forward to what is going to be busy year with Olympic selection and hopefully I’ll grab that place on the World Championship podium in 2012.
“But one thing is for sure, I will be trying to get a a better start to the season than I did in Sydney this year.”
Emma Moffatt finished on strongly and revealed after the race that she “took in a heap of water” on the swim and it created havoc in the early stages of the bike, slowing her down in transition and getting onto the bike.
“It cost me time and the chance to get on to that lead pack and it could have made a lot of difference,” said Moffatt who was just eight seconds behind.
“I had a stitch going up that first hill and the girls just got that much further in front and they kept increasing her lead.
“It just wasn’t happening in our pack and in the end the two minutes at the end of the bike was just too much time to give away.”
Moffatt said it was always her plan to build the race.
“It’s a tough course and it was always the plan from the start to ease my way into the race and build on it,” said Moffatt, who recorded the equal fastest run split of 34 minutes 48 seconds along with team mate Felicity Abram, leaving the Australian coaches with the thought of “what might have been.”
Snowsill, who was far from 100 percent going in to the race, had salt rubbed into her wounds after suffering a time penalty, served on the final run leg.
It certainly wasn’t the kind of Olympic home coming Snowsill had hoped for after she was crowned the Olympic champion on this very Beijing course in 2008.
Her immediate focus now is on regaining full health and securing selection onto the 2012 Olympic team.
The other top 20-placed Australians behind Jackson on the overall ITU pointscore standings, were Moffatt seventh and Snowsill 13th to put the three Emmas in the front of the selectors eyes for the next round of the discretionary Olympic selection process in November.
The men’s pointscore saw Brad Kahlefeldt finish 10th with the next best Australian, Brendan Sexton in 17th.
The Australians finished these championships with one silver medal with Wollongong-based Western Australian Ashlee Bailie declaring her enormous potential to finish second in the Junior World Championship.
Meanwhile in today’s Junior Boys World Championship race, Matt Brown, Emma Jackson’s Brisbane-based training partner from the Stephen Moss stable, produced an outstanding run leg to be the best of the Australian contingent in fifth place with Gold Coast-based Gunnedah teenager Jack Hickey the next best Australian in 12th.