Erin Densham’s Olympic odyssey steps up in Cape Town
London Olympic bronze medallist Aussie Erin Densham will continue her odyssey for a third Olympic team at this weekend’s ITU World Triathlon Series in Cape Town.
Densham returned to the ITU circuit for the first time since 2012 when she finished a respectable 18th in the Gold Coast round a fortnight ago.
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She will be Australia’s lone women’s starter when a 50-strong field, minus the seemingly unbeatable world champion, the USA’s Gwen Jorgensen, lines up tomorrow night (11pm AET).
After victories in Abu Dhabi, Auckland, and the Gold Coast, Jorgensen has opted to sit out Cape Town, which has still attracted a high class field, including her USA team mates, Katie Zaferes and Sarah True, who shared the podium with Jorgensen on the Gold Coast, and the return of Olympic gold medallist from London, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig and British ace Helen Jenkins.
Densham will be joined in South Africa by a three-strong Ausralian men’s team led by her London team mate Brendan Sexton, Commonwealth Games representative from Glasgow Dan Wilson and two-time Australian ITU World Championship representative Cameron Good.
The Gold Coast saw Densham finally make her return after yet another mishap on her bike saw her miss the ITU Mooloolaba World Cup and the ITU WTS round in Auckland.
As hard as Densham tried on the flat, yet technical course on the Gold Coast, she just couldn’t get out of second gear.
“I said ‘come on legs let’s get going’ but I just couldn’t go any faster…but what more could I expect; after all it was my first Olympic Distance race since 2012,” said Densham, who produced the race of her life to grab bronze in a dramatic sprint finish which saw Spirig take the gold and Lisa Norden (Sweden) the silver in London.
Now the race is on again for Olympic berths, both for the National Federations and the individuals.
For Densham, all roads lead to Rio this year for the Olympic Test Event on August 1 and 2, where she hopes to add Rio to her list of Olympics, having begun her Olympic career in Beijing in 2008 before her brilliant bronze in London.
After pushing herself to the limit on the Gold Coast, Densham asked herself plenty of questions as she started the long road towards sport’s holy grail.
“I may just have to recover that whole two weeks leading into Cape Town and just go again,” Densham said at the time.
“I couldn’t really go fast, (on the Gold Coast) that’s all I had; maybe I’ll recover ok because it wasn’t as fast as I would have liked, I’m going to have to wait and see, it’s a totally new domain.
“I’ve got to keep racing, I need to get familiar with it again, the lead in the nerves, the pre-race, the swim was brutal on the Gold Coast.
“I’ve heard that Rio is tough and technical and I’m looking forward to that but I’ve got so much work to do.
“The Rio selection race is the goal; I would like to be able to podium there; I’ve just got to get there; there’s a lot of work to do; I am enjoying the training; I just have to get to the point where I’m enjoying the racing again.”
The men’s field will also see the return of 2012 Olympic men’s champion Alistair Brownlee, who will make his 2015 debut after niggling ankle injuries kept him sidelined for Auckland and the Gold Coast.
“ I actually had a great winter of training up until right before Abu Dhabi, where I decided not to travel there,” said Brownlee at yesterday’s press conference.
“But the last four weeks of training have been good. I am not particularly always that sharp in the first race of the year but hopefully I have a bit of training and freshness on my side.”
Australia’s highest ranked male in the 72-strong men’s field, Dan Wilson, will be lining up for his fourth straight WTS start of the year after finishing 12th in Abu Dhabi; 18th in Auckland and 14th on the Gold Coast.
Wilson is sitting 11th on the ITU rankings with Australia’s highest ranked male, Ryan Bailie, who will sit out Cape Town, sitting in fifth.
Coached by Triathlon Australia’s 2014 Elite Coach Of The Year, Stephen Moss, Wilson is on target for his first Top 10 finish of the season, in a race which is again likely to be dominated by the “Spanish connection” – four-time ITU World Champion Javier Gomez, Gold Coast winner Mario Mola, Fernando Alarza and Vicente Hernandez.
Good (21st on the Gold Coast) and Sexton (32nd) will be better for the run and will be looking to move into the top 20 when the men’s event starts in Cape Town at 11pm on Sunday night AET.