Jenkins can become Wales greatest ever triathlete in August
Gary Baker on 25/06/2012
Very few athletes at the London Olympics assume an air of confidence to think they are racing certainties for gold.
And Bridgend's Helen Jenkins would never class herself in that category, given the huge competition on the global triathlon circuit.
But there is no doubt that Jenkins is the woman to beat when the athletes take to the start line at iconic Hyde Park on August 4.
For she is the best current triathlete in the world, ranked top of the current ITU World Series a victory in San Diego and a second place in Sydney out of the three ranking events to the start of the month.
She is a multiple title winner across all ages, and, thanks to taking the London World Championships last August, the second of her global senior elite titles, with the first being in 2008, she secured a place at next month's Olympics.
Gold would make up for a 21st place in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and would be the crowning glory on a career which saw her win junior and Under-23 crowns before finishing in bronze medal position in her first World Cup race at Salford Quays, Manchester, in July 2005.
Her victory at the London World Championships was over the Olympic course which will give the Bridgend 28-year-old a great advantage and confidence over her big rivals, such as dangerous New Zealander Andrea Hewitt, who is second in the rankings, and Australia's Erin Densham, who beat the Welsh woman in Sydney in April.
Jenkins said: "Last year, to win on the Hyde Park course was my main aim for the year, so to actually achieve my goal at a home event was amazing. I think the pressure was on for that race, but itís going to be nothing compared to this year and the build up for August.
"They have been productive weeks through to now, though, with a second in Sydney and a win in San Diego and a world number one ranking.
"I was especially looking forward to racing in San Diego. I had a great block of training and San Diego is the birthplace of triathlon. We were racing at Mission Beach which is where it all started about 40 years ago.
"I had one of my best ever races and came away with the win! The swim was a beach start and a small group formed at the end of the swim with our group of seven working really well together on a flat, very windy course.
"I thought my biggest competition on the run would be Erin Densham again. We ran together for one of the three laps, when I made a slight wrong turn on the run and ran into an official!
"I only lost a few seconds but it made me speed up and then I managed to break away from Erin and hold on to the finish. It was amazing to enjoy the finish and high five the crowd! "
Wales will be hoping for golds from other athletes but Jenkins has excelled to the extreme elite level in a sport which is does not have many meetings or huge numbers of athletes competing week after week.
The achievement of getting onto the Olympic podium will be exceptional in August but, for Jenkins, nothing less than gold is acceptable to complete her set of global titles that will cement the relentlessly competitive star as Wales' greatest ever triathlete.
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