August 6 - Helen Jenkins had the ideal warm-up today for the London 2012 Games as she struck gold on the proposed Olympic triathlon course, becaming the first British woman to win the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series race in the capital.
The 27-year-old former world champion finished third in London in 2009 and 2010, but an inspired performance enabled her to turn bronze into gold in front of packed crowds around the Hyde Park course.
Afterwards Jenkins, who has taken a big step towards her goal of qualifying for London 2012, said: "I'm so happy, it's really special.
"I knew I had the form but you have to deliver on the day.
"The crowd's support was amazing.
"It's brilliant to be on top, I'm used to being second or third.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet."
Jenkins finished in 2 hours 00min 34sec, with Gwen Jorgensen of the United States taking silver in 2:00:41, and Anja Dittmer of Germany finishing third in 2:00:49.
The Briton added that her preparations for the event had been hampered by a cold.
"I had a bit of a cold this week and I wasn't able to do my usual race prep," she said.
"It didn't feel great on the swim and I felt terrible on the bike, I was just trying to follow my team-mate Kerry Lang.
"I hit the run and thought I would see what I would do.
"I thought I would keep pushing right to the end.
"It hurt so much. I only relaxed when I got on the carpet."
The win means Jenkins climbs from sixth to fourth in the overall World Championship rankings.
Chile's Barbara Riveros Diaz continues to lead the rankings with Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand in second and Paula Findlay of Canada third.
Jenkins was never out of contention throughout a thrilling race that saw 59 of the 67 starters go into the bike/run transition in one pack, separated by just seven seconds.
But it was Jenkins who threw down the gauntlet, making the decisive break halfway through the run to cut the leading group to just six runners.
Jorgensen's silver sealed her place on the US team for 2012 just 18 months after her first triathlon.
"It was a wonderful course, a beautiful swim and bike. I'm going to sit down and go through everything now," she said.
""There's a lot to take away for next year."
Dittmer was pleased with her bronze.
"It was very special to go on the course around Buckingham Place," she said.
"It's good to practice on the course because it's the first and last chance to do so.
"I was trying to improve because the sport is improving.
"It looks like we're all doing the same on the bike.
"I felt really good on the bike today, so I could save some energy for the run.
"Helen is a really good athlete and she put it all together today."
Earlier the American trio of Sarah Haskins, Sarah Groff and Laura Bennett were all in contention throughout the non-wetsuit swim.
Groff was the first out of the water with Haskins second and France's Jessica Harrison third.
Lang was the highest placed of the Brits in third with Australians Emma Moffatt and Emma Snowsill fifth and sixth respectively as the top 32 athletes were separated by just 29 seconds.
Lang was fittingly the first to pass Buckingham Palace on the opening of seven laps of the ride. The ride soon settled down with two packs developing – a leading pack of 34 opening up a one-minute lead over the chasers.
Switzerland's Nicola Spirig set the early pace with Findlay, last year's winner, in touch at the rear of the leading pack.
The chasing group gradually reduced the deficit and the two packs merged on the final cycling ride to set up a grandstand finish, with Sweden's Lisa Norden leading the group into the run.
But it was Jenkins who made the decisive break to cut the field to just six contenders - Australia's Emma Jackson, Dittmer, Hewitt, Jorgensen and Britain's Jodie Simpson all in the running.
Jenkins showed no mercy, opening up a 20 second gap before easing off at the finish line to win by seven seconds.
Afterwards Snowsill, the reigning Olympic champion who finished fifth, said she enjoyed today's course.
"It's a really good scenic course, a lot cooler than Beijing," she said.
Stimpson was second of the Brits in 14th.
"I was hoping to run better, but it'll do," she said.
"The crowd here is always a good turn out and really supportive.
"The course is awesome."
Britain's Vicky Holland finished 17th.
"The course was very fast, flat, and quite technical in places," she said.
"It was an average performance, I've just come from injury so probably could have been a few more for me out there, but I think I performed the best I could today.
"It was fast paced, maybe the strongest pace we've seen lately.
"It's a hard task to be a part of the Great British team, but then you know you're competing with the best."
Lang, who came 52nd, paid tribute to Jenkins.
"Helen was just awesome," she said.
"I think she's really showed the world, 'watch out', and it's amazing to be on the team with her.
"It was a good fast paced race, and great to see Helen winning."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
August 2011: London in bid to host 2013 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Grand Final
August 2011: Triathlon Live debuts in UK cities this weekend
July 2011: Olympic field announced for Hyde Park's London 2012 triathlon rehearsal
January 2011: Shoe giants Clarks put best foot forward to sponsor Triathlon World Championship
December 2010: Olympic dress rehearsal for 2011 Hyde Park triathletes