Australia’s London Olympic hopeful Emma Jackson was forced out of today’s ITU Triathlon World Championship round won by Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig in Madrid, suffering with stomach cramps. This left the other three Aussies the opportunity to show what they can do. Natalie Van Coevorden took the batton and brought home the Australian women. Whilst 27th was not a top 10 it was still a very good result with just the run being the difference for Van Coevorden. She was followed home directly by Felicity Abrams with Felicity Sheedy-Ryan in 37th.
Jackson, 20, who was fourth in last year’s ITU World Series, looked well placed to give herself every chance of her first top ten finish of the year until the third of the 2.5kilometre run legs.
The determined Queenslander rounded the final bend on lap three of the run and stopped to a walk, buckling over and holding her side after she had pushed herself into 11th.
Jackson worked hard on the first hill climb after coming out of the water in 24th place, to catch the lead group on the bike, content to stay in touch at the rear of the pack which grew from 30 to 40 on the final lap.
And with a smooth transition, Jackson started to move through the field, pushing up to the chase group of four and five athletes as they set their sights on pace-maker Spring (SUI) and the leaders.
But Jackson dropped off the pace and coming around the final bend heading towards the transition and with almost 3km left to run, Jackson clutched her side, bending over with her hands on her hips and slowed to a walk, before withdrawing from the race.
Her QAS coach Stephen Moss later confirmed Jackson had â€œsuffered severe stomach crampsâ€ and as much as she wanted to â€œjust couldn’t continueâ€ which is very un-Jackson like. She was taken to the medical tent for immediate treatment after the race.
â€œEmma was cramping really badly and it looks like it could have been food poisoning,â€ said Moss.
â€œShe was in so much pain, Ambulance officers treated her with antispasmodic drugs to control the cramping which settled everything down.
â€œEmma is obviously very disappointed and frustrated with her start to the year.â€
The Madrid round was the last race inside the Olympic Nomination period, with the Australian selectors to have their final meeting this Thursday, May 31 to decide the final two women and the final two men for London 2012.
Jackson is locked in a selection battle with Sydney ITU round winner and San Diego ITU silver medallist and Beijing Olympian, Erin Densham and reigning Olympic gold medallist Emma Snowsill for those final two spots.
Triathlon Australia will nominate its team to the Australian Olympic Committee in early June.
Spirig was in control of the race from the outset and although the likely podium finishers were narrowed down to four on the run â€“ including Barbara Riveros Diaz (Chile), Aileen Morrison (Ireland) and Anne Haug (Germany), Spirig always looked the girl most likely.
She produced her trademark kick with around 200m to the finish to race away from Morrison and Riveros to grab the gold medal with Haug fourth and Andrea Klamer (NED) fifth â€“ her second victory in Madrid after claiming the title in 2010.
The best of the Australians today were emerging youngster Natalie Van Coevorden (27th) and the experienced Felicity Abram (28th), with Felicity Sheedy-Ryan (37th).
The Wollongong-based Van Coevorden gave a good sight for the entire race, coming out of the water in fourth and she was amongst the leaders for the entire 40km on the bike on a tough, hilly course, coming through T2 in fourth place. She backed herself to stay with the leaders and give the race her all. About 2.5kms in to the run and Van Coevorden was still pushing the front of the race. Like Jackson she then got struck by stomach cramping. After taking in a gel and some water she felt better and gave the remainder of the run all she could and ended up with a strong 27th. 3min in the run was the difference on the day.
Meanwhile Brendan Sexton, another prospective Olympian, with his eyes on London, will spearhead a young group of Australians including Drew Box, Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie in the men’s race (set down for 9.55pm tonight AEST).
Sexton is locked in a battle with Courtney Atkinson and Chris McCormack for the final two spots on the men’s team which already has Brad Kahlefeldt pre-nominated.
Kahlefeldt, who was admitted to hospital after the San Diego round and found to have pneumonia after extensive testing cleared him of TB, has re-started his Olympic training campaign in Majorca Spain.
Australian Head Coach Shaun Stephens reports that the Beijing Olympian and Commonwealth Games gold medallist got through a four-kilometre swim, three hour ride and 40 mins run today.
â€œThere was no intensity but it’s all ok so far, it’s a good start,â€ said Stephens
|3||Barbara Riveros Diaz||CHI||2:06:40||0:20:13||1:09:48||0:35:12|
|27||Natalie Van Coevorden||AUS||2:09:48||0:19:40||1:10:24||0:38:14|
|50||Romina Palacio Balena||ARG||2:15:41||0:21:50||1:12:29||0:39:47|
|51||Fabienne St Louis||MRI||2:16:00||0:21:56||1:12:27||0:40:07|
|55||Anna Godoy Contreras||ESP||2:17:16||0:19:36||1:14:43||0:41:16|
|DNF||Sarissa De Vries||NED||0:00:00||0:20:30||1:13:54||0:00:00|