Non Stanford and Vicky Holland secured Rio 2016 Olympic Games preselection by finishing second and third respectively at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago. The race was won by Gwen Jorgensen (USA), who has not been beaten all season. Jodie Stimpson and Helen Jenkins were excellent after injury-hampered seasons.
The bar had been set incredibly high to secure Olympic pre-selection, but Stanford and Holland rose to it with medal winning performances. The policy asked for podium places in Rio and Chicago, and both have now achieved this.
All four British women swam well and established themselves in a lead pack on the bike. Only India Lee missed the cut. Apart from one wobble on a dead turn by Stanford, the 40km bike was incident free and all of the leading contenders stayed together.
Starting the 10km run, Jorgensen, Stanford and Holland immediately emerged as the top contenders. They ran together for 8km, moving away from the rest of the field. Jorgensen was the strongest, gunning for a home win, whilst the British duo focussed on defending podium positions.
Holland, who finished third, said: “You never want to enter a race not aiming to win it, but getting on the podium was a win for me. That’s absolutely everything I wanted to do today. I’m delighted, I’ve done it.”
Commenting on Jorgensen’s dominance, she added: “Her kick is something else at the moment. She’s the target, she’ll know that and we’ve got a year to work on it.”
Stanford echoed those thoughts: “Her kick was phenomenal today. I was sort of waiting for it. If I’m honest, it sounds defeatist but I was racing Andrea [Hewitt] who was in fourth.
“All I wanted to do was get on that podium and I was delighted that I was able to finish off with second.”
Jodie Stimpson had her best race of the season to finish sixth. Having put injuries behind her, she will want to push on from here to put herself in the frame for the final Olympic slot next year. She’ll have strong competition from double world champion and Olympian, Helen Jenkins, who finished not too far behind in 11th place.
Gwen Jorgensen secured the overall win in the World Triathlon Series and was crowned ITU World Champion. Andrea Hewitt (NZL) was second and Sarah True (USA) third. Holland finished fourth, despite having done one less race than her rivals, underlining how consistence she has been this season.
British Triathlon Performance Director, Brendan Purcell, said: “Non and Vicky have met the selection criteria so that takes the pressure of them now. Subject to approval from TeamGB next year, they’re on the team.
“It was an exceptional performance, and from Jodie and Helen as well, especially considering how little they’ve raced this season.”
The men’s race takes place tomorrow with Jonathan Brownlee back in action following a stress fracture. Adam Bowden and Mark Buckingham join him as Javier Gomez (ESP) goes for his fifth ITU world title. Earlier today Lauren Steadman won the PT4 Paratriathlon world title.
Results: ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, Chicago: 1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run
1. Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 1:55:36
2. Non Stanford, GBR, 1:56:05
3. Vicky Holland, GBR, 1:56:20
6. Jodie Stimpson, GBR, 1:57:08
11. Helen Jenkins, GBR, 1:57:46
56. India Lee, GBR, 2:05:02