LONDON // Helen Jenkins, the former world champion, raced to an impressive victory in the London leg of the triathlon world championship series Saturday on the same Hyde Park course where the Olympic triathlon will be held next year.
Jenkins, the world champion in 2008, had never previously won a leg of the International Triathlon Union series.
However, she won in front of her home fans to effectively book her place in the 2012 Games.
The Olympic course had been expected to be fast and heavily favouring the stronger runners, with no hills to break up the 40-kilometre cycling leg.
It proved to be the case with a pack of around 50 athletes coming through the 1,500-metre swim and the bike together.
Jenkins was right among them and used her running speed over the 10km final leg to forge clear and eventually win in 2hrs 34secs, seven seconds ahead of America's Gwen Jorgensen, with Anja Dittmer of Germany another eight seconds back in third.
"Oh, it hurt so much. Normally when you win you are like 'Oh yeah, its easy', but that hurt," Jenkins said. "I didn't feel great in the swim, and the bike was pretty easy, but my legs didn't feel great.
"I was just trying to follow my teammate, Kerry Lang. I was just trying to sit with her, as she's riding really well, and then I hit the run and I thought, 'I'll just see how I can do'. But I had to keep pushing right to the end."
Jorgensen had the fastest run split of the day - 33mins 43secs - to secure her place on the United States team having been spotted in athletics and fast-tracked into the sport by USA Triathlon (USAT).
"It really is surreal, and give credit for USAT for coming to me. I mean, I wouldn't have even known about this without them, so it's awesome," she said.
Dittmer snatched third in a mass sprint finish to become the first athlete to qualify for all four Olympic triathlons after the sport was first held in Sydney 2000.
The men's event is Sunday.