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Helen Jenkins wins second ITU world title, as Andrea Hewitt steals the show with Grand Final win
Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins cemented her status as one of the ITU’s elite after capturing her second ITU World Championship in Beijing on Sunday.
Heading into the Grand Final, Jenkins only needed to make the podium to clinch her second ITU World Championship and her second-placed finish behind New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt was enough to put her on top of the podium, with a total of 4032 points this season.
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.
Hewitt did steal the show on the day though, 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.
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 finishing chute. 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 took an extra 10 minutes to decide just who had claimed the overall ITU World Championship bronze medal though, as the points difference between Sarah Groff and Emma Jackson was calculated. In the end 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.
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, alongside Kerry 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 30seconds on lap one to a two-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 finished sixth overall, followed by Moffatt, Bennett, Norden and Annaheim.
In other notable results, Jessica Harrison‘s seventh placed finish meant that she met France’s qualifying criteria for the London 2012 Olympic Games, while Kate Mcllroy‘s sixth-placed finish meant she met New Zealand’s qualifying criteria for the Olympics