New Zealand triathlete Andrea Hewitt had cause for a double celebration in London today, qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games and moving up to second in the world rankings thanks to her sixth place finish at the latest round of the ITU Dextro Energy World Championship Series.
Top ten was the goal for the Kiwis to secure a nomination to the NZOC for London and the ever consistent Hewitt was easily up to the task on the same course to be used at the Games next year, with local favourite Helen Jenkins taking out the honours.
The 29 year old Cantabrian was thrilled with her day’s work.
“The focus today was absolutely the top ten and qualifying for the Games. By doing this today it means I have a year to prepare for the Olympics with the race on this same course. I’m delighted to qualify and to get it done at the first opportunity.”
Water temperatures were such that it was a non-wetsuit swim for the 64 strong field with Hewitt, Kate McIlroy and Debbie Tanner all coping well to emerge in touch with the lead pack on to the bike leg. Not so Nicky Samuels though, the Wanaka triathlete exited the water in 37th place, leaving her down by over a minute after the first of eight laps in a chase group of 25 that included current world number one Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) and rising Australian star Emma Jackson.
With most of the heavy hitters in the lead group of 34 though there was little action at the front, with most content to ride in the bunch and conserve for the 10km run. This group included Hewitt, Debbie Tanner and Kate McIlroy and the relative lack of effort from the leaders allowed the chasers to slowly but surely close the gap, with the catch made on the final lap.
From that point it came down to a foot race and it was Jenkins who thrilled the home fans lining the streets of London as she pulled away in the middle stages to win comfortably from relative unknown Gwen Jorgenson (USA) and veteran Anja Dittmer (GER) who qualified for her fourth Olympic Games with her third place.
Hewitt said Jenkins made her move at just the wrong time for the Kiwi to respond.
“At about the 4 kilometre mark I bridged a sizeable gap across to the lead group of four and as soon as I made contact Helen made her move and I simply couldn’t risk a response at that time. The middle stages were then really a case of hanging on until Anja came past and I went with her until the final kilometre or so.
“Today was all about the run though after a steady swim and then the big group coming together on the bike. It was tough too around Serpentine Lake, it is so flat and the pace was really fast as a result. Top ten was the goal today and I am really pleased, I’ll go away now and work on finding more speed in that middle stage of the race for next year.”
The news wasn’t so good for the other Kiwis though with Tanner and Samuels finishing over 2 minutes behind Jenkins while McIlroy withdrew midway through the run, clearly not over the recent torn calf muscle that has restricted her run training.
The Kiwis will have another opportunity to qualify for the London Olympic Games at a yet to be confirmed 2012 World Championship Series event early next year.
The men race tomorrow (midnight NZT) with Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell, Ryan Sissons, James Elvery and Clark Ellice on the start line looking for a top ten finish and a nomination to London.
|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|