Helen Jenkins secured her place in the Olympic women’s triathlon in the best possible way – but she insists we haven’t seen anything yet.
With Non Stanford and Vicky Holland’s spots secured at the Olympic Games sometime earlier, Jenkins went into this year’s World Triathlon Series Gold Coast event looking to secure that third and final Team GB triathlon place for the 2016 Olympic Games.
To do that she knew she had to beat compatriot and friend Jodie Stimpson, who was also vying for the final place.
But not only did Jenkins do that – with Stimpson coming home 12th – but in securing the victory Down Under the Welshwoman shattered American Gwen Jorgenson’s aura of invincibility.
Jorgenson had not been beaten for 13 events, dating back to 2014, before Jenkins proved she will be one to keep an eye.
“I was shocked to win in Australia,” she said. “The last five weeks of training before the Gold Coast was the best I’ve had in years but I didn’t expect that.
“I’ve done a lot of my preparation in Portugal and it’s been a successful run into my third Olympics.
“I’m going out there to enjoy this knowing that I’ve done everything I can to get myself ready for this, and that Team GB is doing brilliantly well so far.
“The support of the team around me has made a massive difference over the last few years and even more so the last few weeks in helping me prepare as well as I could have wanted.”
Despite the victory in Australia, Jenkins’ road to Rio hasn’t been the smoothest, all starting when she went into London 2012 as one of the favourites for a gold medal only to encounter a knee problem in the build-up that saw her come home fifth.
Two years later and a foot injury forced her to miss out on the 2014 Commonwealth Games, while in last year’s Rio test event she received a blow to the head during the swim and failed to finish the race.
But she will take to the startline in Rio with new-found confidence, although she is determined to simply enjoy it third time around, having dealt with the pressure cooker that is being a home athlete at a Games four years ago.
"Running in Rio is a bonus; I didn't really expect to be going," Jenkins added. "So I don't want to put that pressure on myself at the moment. Winning a medal is something I won't allow myself to think about.
"In London it was all about gold or getting a medal and this time around really all I am focusing on is lining up fit and healthy," she said.
"With 10 weeks to go to London, I got a really bad injury and I couldn't walk. I went in as
one of the favourites and no-one had any idea how bad the injury was.
"I dealt with the pressure really well and did well to come fifth. But it was not was I was aiming for. I was disappointed at the time, but I am proud now.
"It was the most adverse conditions I had ever faced and I now view it as an overwhelmingly positive experience.
"But in Rio if I can do that and produce the best performance that I can, I will come back happy. That's what I want to do."