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Densham puts hand up for London

14 April 2012

Australian triathlete Erin Densham has run away from the best triathletes in the world, including her Australian rivals for Olympic selection, to win the opening round of the World Championship Series in Sydney.

Densham, who won the Mooloolaba World Cup three weeks ago, was too strong for Britain’s Helen Jenkins and world number one Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand in the final kilometre of the 10km run.

Former world champion and Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Emma Moffatt faded from the lead in the run to place 13th. Moffat’s training partner Ashleigh Gentle had a superb run to move to 10th and be the second Australian over the finish line.

Olympic champion Emma Snowsill had a strong run and worked her way through the field into 14th and Emma Jackson, who is known for her great run, looked ominous after four kilometres but it wasn’t her day and she placed 33rd. Triathlon Australia selectors will now decide whether they pre-nominate more athletes or wait until after the next world championship race in San Diego in three weeks.

Densham was fourth out of the swim and at the front of the large bike pack of 50 riders with Moffatt throughout. Densham, who has been hit by injury and illness since representing Australia at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, sprinted out of bike-run transition and controlled the run tempo superbly.

“It’s good to get the job done. It’s special, especially at home,” Densham, who had family and friends cheering her on, said.

“This is my biggest win so far. Mooloolaba was kind of the first step and I was like ‘wow this is what I can do’!

“There was probably more pressure today knowing that I could do that. There were probably a lot of people that said it was a one-off and in the back of my mind maybe I thought that as well.”

The fact Densham, who had surgery for a heart condition after the Beijing Olympics, has had a decent run of good health has made all the difference.

“Consistency has been the key. I had the worst run ever over the past four years so I’ve finally put together five months of consistent training with no injuries ‘touch wood’, no interruptions and it’s just been easy.”

Moffatt, who has been pre-nominated for the London Olympics, was happy with her overall race but she just couldn’t go with the girls in the back-half of the run.

“You always go out there to win but it is 104 days until the London Olympics so I’m happy with where I am at,” Moffatt said.

“All credit to Erin. She has just been going amazing these past two races and hopefully for Australia she can keep it up and go this well in London as well.”

Snowsill has had mixed form since her dominant performance at the Beijing Olympics but was happy with her first race of the season after missing Mooloolaba with a virus. The reigning Olympic Champion was very pleased for Densham, her Beijing Olympic team-mate.

“Erin’s had a lot of ups and downs since Beijing and I’m really happy for her and proud of how she has come back from her struggles,” Snowsill said.

“She’s on form and on fire and she has certainly put her hand for selection.”

Densham down-played her chances at the London Olympics despite her dominant display at the Mooloolaba World Cup and World Championship race on Saturday.

“I think anyone on the start line can medal so if I’m on the start line I think I can. I obviously didn’t come away with the result I wanted from Beijing (22nd) but it was a great learning experience and if I had the opportunity again I would know what to do differently and know what I need to do.”

Densham’s mum was on hand to cheer on her daughter and got thanked for all her support with the winner’s bouquet of pink roses.

“We all knew this is what she is capable of and finally it’s come together...no one deserves this more than she does,” Densham’s mum said.

Her daughter had a heart condition from 12 years of age and she thought she might have to give up triathlon. And despite glandular fever she still made her first Olympic Team in 2008.

Andrew Reid

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