Australia’s London Olympian Emma Jackson has climbed her way back to her best form with a courageous silver medal in the ITU’s toughest World Triathlon Series race in Kitzbuehel today.
The 21-year-old Queenslander tackled the un-forgiving 11.5km hill climb to the notorious Kitzbuehel Horn on the bike and 2.5km run with a ferocious tenacity after a 750m swim in the Austrian Alpine resort town .
It was a huge confidence booster for Jackson and a reward for her persistence, belief and hard work after an indifferent post Olympic year.
As hard as she tried, Jackson. who has been based in Aix Les Bains in France under QAS coach Stephen Moss, couldn’t catch winner Great Britain’s Jodie Stimpson but held off Germany’s world number two Anne Haug, to post her best result of the year.
â€œI tried as hard as I could but just couldn’t go with Jodie,â€ said Jackson, who said she gained inspiration from watching Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee (GBR) take out the men’s race.
â€œI’m very, very happy with that result â€“ my third silver medal in a WTS race and it’s great to be back on the podium.â€
Before the race Moss was confident Jackson was on the verge of a return to the kind of form that has saw her win the ITU World Under 23 title and make last year’s Olympic team after a break through year in 2011.
â€œEmma has been training well and has her sights set on certain goals for this year and I feel we are on track to achieving those goals,â€ said Moss.
â€œWe are settled in our base in France and she loves training there â€“ it’s a real home away from home. Her first real race back was in French Grand Prix and that was a positive start for her.â€
Australia’s Ashleigh Gentle, who prepared for her attack on the brutal Kitzbuehel Horn with training rides up Springbrook mountain on the Gold Coast, finished a creditable 9th while two-time Olympian Emma Moffatt was 19th and Felicity Abram, who took a groin injury into the race finished 34th.
Australian now has three women in the top ten on the WTS rankings after five rounds with Moffatt sixth, Abram eighth and Gentle 10th while Jackson has jumped from outside the top 58 to 27th.
Meanwhile in the men’s race 22-year-old Wollongong-based Western Australian Ryan Bailie showed why he is an Australian triathlete very much on the rise.
Bailie, a noted hill climber, mixed it with the best in the world to finish in ninth place while team mate Dan Wilson was 29th.
Brownlee proved yet again why he is one of the greatest triathletes of all time with another breath-taking performance.
Mario Mola (ESP) who started the day in third place in the World Series Triathlon rankings, claimed a silver medal while Sven Riederer (SUI) held off Henri Schoeman (RSA) to win bronze.
Bailie left five of the world’s top 10 ranked triathletes in his wake â€“ including world number one, Olympic silver medallist and two-time world champion Javier Gomez (ESP) who was 13th â€“ itself a courageous effort after a bike crash just days before the killer 750m swim; 11.5km ride and 2.5km swim.
Also behind him was world number two Joao Silva (Portugal), fourth ranked Richard Murray (RSA) who was 21st; seventh ranked Laurent Vidal (FRA) 40th and eighth ranked David McNamee (GBR) who was 33rd.
The continuous climb certainly took its toll on some the best ITU triathletes in the world as the killer hill tested the legs of every competitor.
Bailie is now sitting 11th on the WTS rankings with Hamburg, Stockholm and London remaining.