She’s emerging as one of triathlon’s brightest British prospects and Jess Learmonth is back on the podium once more as the new season gets underway.
The Leeds-born athlete fought hard for silver in an eventful ITU World Triathlon Series 2018 opener in Abu Dhabi, with Rachel Klamer of the Netherlands powering home for gold in the women's race.
Along with Australian Natalie Van Coevorden and American Kirsten Kasper, Learmonth and Klamer were in the leading running pack of four which pulled clear after several competitors crashed out during a slippery bike ride earlier in the day.
But the 29-year-old did not let that affect her efforts as she raced home in second, a finish which she admitted would be a major boost in confidence looking ahead to the Commonwealth Games in Australia’s Gold Coast next month.
“It was great, I’m really happy,” said Learmonth, who also took silver in Stockholm last year.
“With it being the first race of the season, I thought ‘if I have a bad race, at least I’ve got a month to recover [ahead of the Commonwealths]'.
“And likewise, I’ve put in a good race and still got a month to go – we’ve still got to do a lot of training and prep for the Commonwealths.
“But it gives me a lot of confidence and we’ll see what it brings.”
Fellow Brits Vicky Holland, Non Stanford and Sophie Coldwell crossed the finish line in 11th, 16th and 26th respectively.
Learmonth led after the 750m swim, but during the bike ride, several athletes succumbed to the slippery conditions, with world champion Flora Duffy, American Katie Zafares and Joanna Brown of Canada all withdrawing due to crashes.
And she admitted seeing some of the men battle the tricky conditions earlier in the day left her slightly wary ahead of the start.
“It turned into a survival of the fittest,” she added. “I hope everyone who crashed is alright, but it was carnage.
“I was really pleased with my run today. Before the race, especially after we’d seen the men, I just wanted to get onto the run to put into a good run. That was my main aim really.
“I knew [a good result] was going to come, it’s just been a while building it up, staying injury free, not getting ill, I don’t actually know how well I ran because we were in a group of four.
“But to be in a running race in a group of four, that was surreal – normally I’m just seeing them run straight past me or I’m hanging on.”
Jonny Brownlee’s seventh-place finish was the best of the British results in the men’s race, after the double Olympic medallist fell in the wet conditions on the bike.
Thomas Bishop secured 14th, Marc Austin 27th and Gordon Benson 45th, with South African Henri Schoeman securing gold.
Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee missed the race due to a calf complaint.