Helen Jenkins is determined to stay focused on the race of her life that begins Saturday morning. The double world champion feeds on the support of her nation as she gears up to win Great Britain a triathlon gold.
The 28-year-old triathlete has become a favorite over the last couple of years, especially after finishing in the top two in the last nine races and her victory at the Hyde Park course a year ago. Nonetheless, even champions have fears like anyone else.
"I picture myself in the race," she said. "And I see that my rivals are escaping. And I tell myself: 'No, you can't let that happen – you've got to catch up or you're going to get dropped'. And so I drive harder, again and again, and it gets me through."
A typical day for Jenkins begins with a 5:30-am, 90-minute swim, followed by a gym session, an hour-long run and later an afternoon bike ride, because that’s exactly what she will be doing when thousands of supporters will be cheering her today as the triathlon kick starts at 9:00 am.
"The fact I know the course so well and can feed off the energy from my home crowd obviously helps," she explained, "but the big thing for me is the run in Hyde Park. Usually in triathlon races there are lots of dead turns – you go out to one point, turn 180 degrees and run back – which makes it hard for me to get into a rhythm. In Hyde Park there are only four dead turns in the whole 10km."
But it’s not just the race she must win. Jenkins wants to be hard on all three disciplines.
“I know that if I get it right, if everything plays into my hands, I can win,” she said, according to a report by Telegraph. Even rain can’t stop the athlete this time, because all her training in Bridgend took place while the skies were pouring.
The athlete was forced to hold back her determination earlier this year after controversial selection Vicky Holland and Lucy Hall alongside Jenkins. The rational, of course, was to select those athletes who were well-equipped to help Jenkins win. However, this strategy has not worked so well in previous Olympic experiences, where the athletes representing the same country failed to work as a team.
“The selectors had to make a very brave decision and decided that Helen was the person who could win a medal.” said Malcolm Brown, Team GB’s Olympic performance manager.