Stakes high as triathletes head to San Diego

11 May 2012 / 07:08

Jonny Brownlee makes his World Triathlon Series debut for 2012 in San Diego this weekend looking for his first senior gold medal over the Olympic distance, but it is the battle to join him in London this summer that will take centre stage.

The 22-year-old has already qualified for the Games along with older brother Alistair and Helen Jenkins, both of whom are reigning world champions, leaving two spots in the British women's team up for grabs and one in the men's. This weekend's race and the next one in Madrid later this month are the last that will count for selection, and the stakes could not be higher.

Will Clarke has consistently been the third best British man over the past couple of years, but the British Triathlon selection policy focuses heavily on medal potential, and they could well select a third athlete as a domestique to help the Brownlees.

Clarke believes he needs to make the top three in San Diego to keep himself in contention for a spot in his own right, something he has only achieved once before, in Hamburg last year.

The 27-year-old from Cambridge said: "I'm in good shape and I've done everything I can. I've had the best winter's training of my life, I wouldn't change one day. Things like this can spur you on but it's very stressful in the meantime. You question whether you're good enough. I just need to try to relax and do the best I can."

For Brownlee, San Diego represents a chance to stand on the top step of the podium in the place where the sport was invented.

The Yorkshireman has consistently finished as runner-up to his older brother, who is back home in Leeds this weekend continuing his recovery from an Achilles injury, and if Brownlee could come out on top it would lay down a marker for London.

He said: "It's the first one of the year for me and a historic place to come and race, so I'm really excited about getting going. It will be an interesting race with some people aiming at Olympic selection. For me it's about the build-up to the summer now, and a good result here will confirm that I'm on track."

Jenkins is also in action following her second place in the opening race in Sydney last month, while the likes of Liz Blatchford, Vicky Holland and Jodie Stimpson will hope to boost their chances of Olympic selection in the women's race on Saturday night.

Vanessa Raw, Lois Rosindale and Non Stanford make up the team, while Adam Bowden, Tim Don, Aaron Harris, Todd Leckie and David McNamee will race in the men's event on Saturday night.