Beijing, China (11 September 2011) – Three years ago Helen Jenkins left Beijing unsatisfied with her Olympic performance but today she took care of unfinished business as she claimed her second career ITU World Championship title. By finishing in second place, she maintained her lead in the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series and was crowned the ITU Triathlon World Champion for 2011.
But New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt stole the show on the day, putting in her best race of the year to capture only her second series race title after Madrid in 2009 with a time of 1hour 58minutes and 26seconds – which was the exact same time that Emma Snowsill recorded to win the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal. And with Canada’s Paula Findlay an early withdrawal from the race, pulling out in the first lap of the bike, and Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz falling off the pace in the run, it was enough for Hewitt to move into the overall world championship silver medal position with 3836 points.
Jenkins, who won her first ITU World Championship in 2008, now joins company like Emma Carney, Michellie Jones, Karen Smyers and Emma Moffatt as women who have won two ITU world titles.
“That was a really tough day, I’m so happy. I just didn’t have it in the end to go past Andrea, it would have been awesome to take the win here but I’m just so pleased just to win the world champs again, amazing,” Jenkins said.
“Andrea just had a really big kick down the end that I couldn’t hang on to, I tried to go with it and then, my legs just went. It was a really tough day, the front group we all worked really hard on the bike and for once the breakaway stayed away and I think it shows that if we all do commit on the bike it can work…this is a course that you have to be strong over all three disciplines and if you’ve got any weakness, like you could see today, you just end up at the back of the race.”
“Last year I was so close to getting on the podium for the world champs series, so this year coming second, it just makes up for everything,” Hewitt said. “From the start of the run, I led the first km and then as soon as she passed me I just hung on to her and I knew I had a little bit more energy when it came to the last part, so I went for it soon as I came into the stadium.”
The battle for bronze in both the Grand Final race and the overall series standings was far from settled though, as both were decided in the final few hundred metres. In the race for the grand final podium, Switzerland’s Melanie Annaheim outsprinted Lisa Norden, Laura Bennett and Kate McIlroy to capture her first ever series medal.
“It’s just amazing, I have no words at the moment, just ‘wow,'” Annaheim said. “I like it hilly, not so much like London so it was a good course for me and just a great day.”
Groff’s 10th place was enough to put her 23 points ahead of Jackson, who was overtaken by Moffatt in the final few hundred metres to finish 12th. Groff finished with 2783 points to Jackson’s 2760.
“I am absolutely shocked, my first response upon crossing the finish line was ‘I just want to get to the medical tent’. That was a really really tough day, my coach is going to be so mad at me for running sub-par,” she said. “As of a few days ago I was contemplating, kind of calling it a season and I have to say I’m absolutely delighted I continued. My flight was delayed a day, but I waited the next day and got on the plane and raced and I’m just shocked, it’s nice to know that consistency pays off. I’m absolutely honoured to be on the podium with two such phenomenal athletes.”
The battle for places was on from the start in a fast swim, with a total of this 70 women dove into the Shisanling Reservoir in the Changping district near Beijing. Jenkins quickly moved to the front, alongsideKerry Lang they drove a fast-pace which splintered the group early. A total of 15 athletes exited together, including Jenkins, Groff, Hewitt, Annaheim, Mcllroy, Norden, Bennett, Liz Blatchford, Vicky Holland, Debbie Tanner, Kate Roberts, Alice Betto, Flora Duffy, and Tomoko Sakimoto. Only Holland and Roberts dropped off over the 40km bike leg.
A chase pack that included Moffatt, Jackson, Riveros Diaz, Snowsill and Nicola Spirig then couldn’t put any time on the lead group in the bike. Even with Spirig battling up front, the gap spread from 30 seconds on lap one to a 2-minute difference at T2.
With that lead it was always going to be hard to catch anyone in the front group as Jenkins and Hewitt pulled away in the second lap to seal the top two positions in the Grand Final and overall ITU World Championship. But the tense battle then did emerge for bronze.
Riveros Diaz was still in that medal position in T2, but she ended up finishing in 42nd place, almost seven minutes down from the leaders as Groff moved into third overall and Jackson fourth. Riveros Diaz still held on to fifth place in the overall ITU World Championship standings, Findlay ended up sixth overall, followed by Moffatt, Bennett, Norden and Annaheim.
In other notable results, Jessica Harrison met France’s qualifying criteria for the London 2012 Olympic Games with her 7th place, while Kate Mcllroy’s 6th place finish meant she also met New Zealand’s qualifying criteria for the Olympics.
Final Results – Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final Beijing
1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
1 – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) – Gold – 1:58:26
2 – Helen Jenkins (GBR) – Silver – 1:58:40
3 – Melanie Annaheim (SUI) – Bronze – 1:58:58
4 – Lisa Norden (SWE) – 1:59:00
5 – Laura Bennett (USA) – 1:59:02
6 – Kate McIlroy (NZL) – 1:59:04
7 – Jessica Harrison (FRA) – 1:59:09
8 – Liz Blatchford (GBR) – 2:00:11
9 – Flora Duffy (BER) – 2:00:24
10 – Sarah Groff (USA) – 2:00:37
Click here for full field results
Final Standings – 2011 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU Triathlon World Championship Series
World Champion – Helen Jenkins (GBR) – 4023 points
Silver – Andrea Hewitt (NZL) – 3836 points
Bronze – Sarah Groff (USA) – 2783 points
4 – Emma Jackson (AUS) – 2760 points
5 – Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI) – 2754 points
6 – Paula Findlay (CAN) – 2637 points
7 – Emma Moffatt (AUS) – 2611 points
8 – Laura Bennett (USA) – 2560 points
9 – Lisa Norden (SWE) – 2265 points
10 – Melanie Annaheim (SUI) – 1950 points
Click here for full final rankings