London 2012

Spirig wins, Jenkins fifth

Disappointment for Briton as Swiss pips Swede

Last Updated: 04/08/12 11:59am

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Spiring (r): Pipped Norden on the line

Spiring (r): Pipped Norden on the line

There was disappointment for Great Britain's world champion Helen Jenkins as she could only finish fifth in the Olympic triathlon in Hyde Park.

The Welshwoman went into the race as one of the favourites having won over the same course in the World Triathlon Series last year and then again in her most recent race in San Diego.

But that came back in May and here she found herself off the pace in the latter stages of the 10 kilometre run, with Switzerland's Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden of Sweden crossing the line together.

Spirig was eventually given the verdict, Switzerland's first gold medal of the Games, with Norden in second and Erin Densham of Australia taking bronze.

British Triathlon chose to adopt a team approach, with Lucy Hall and Vicky Holland picked to support Jenkins in her bid for a medal.

Hall, 20, is a relative novice at elite senior level but is one of the fastest swimmers in the sport and was picked to try to help Jenkins split the pack and leave some of the faster runners behind.

Hall certainly went out fast in the 1500 metre lap of the Serpentine and there was soon a small lead group, but unfortunately for the British team Jenkins and Holland were not in it.

Crashed

Hall came out of the water first more than a minute ahead of her team-mates, but Jenkins and Holland were at least at the front of the main pack, although Holland crashed on the first lap of the bike and dropped back.

There were a number of crashes in the same spot outside Buckingham Palace, with Australia's Emma Moffatt, the bronze medallist from Beijing, unable to carry on.

The first two groups merged as they reached the end of the second lap, but the danger for Jenkins was that many of her rivals were also right in the mix.

The crowds lining the route in Hyde Park were 10 deep in places, but the small grandstand meant the noise when the riders came through the transition zone was rather muted.

Hall, who had been a controversial pick, was doing a lot of work on the bike, keeping the pace high to minimise attacks and allowing Jenkins to coast along in the middle of the 22-strong pack.

Jenkins exited transition in ninth place and immediately worked her way to the front while Hall, her job done, dropped back.

Thinned

All the major contenders stayed together through the early part of the run, and one by one the leading group thinned, with Jenkins frequently pushing the pace.

That became four as New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt dropped back, but Densham, Spirig and Norden are all regular medal winners and Jenkins was the one who looked like she was struggling to live with the pace a little.

Amazingly the quartet were then joined by America's Sarah Groff, who had worked her way back after being dropped much earlier in the run.

And with a kilometre to go it was Jenkins, who has been struggling with a right knee problem, who began to drop off the back, and she could not get back.

It came down to a sprint, and amazingly Norden and Spirig crossed the line at exactly the same time, with Densham third and Groff fourth.

The result means Britain go into Tuesday's men's race, where Yorkshire's Brownlee brothers are the favourites for gold and silver, still never having won a triathlon medal.

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