17:35 EST, 26 May 2012
17:35 EST, 26 May 2012
Take me: Vicky Holland hoping for selection
Vicky Holland is hoping she will be given the chance to realise a 20-year dream of competing in the Olympics after another strong showing at the World Triathlon Series race in Madrid on Saturday.
The 26-year-old followed up her fifth place in San Diego earlier this month with seventh in the Spanish capital, the final qualifying event, while Liz Blatchford finished 10th.
Only world champion Helen Jenkins, who opted to miss this race, has so far secured a spot at the Games, leaving two places open for the selectors to fill when they meet next week.
British Triathlon have made it very clear, though, that their priority is medals, and there is a strong possibility they will choose one or even two domestiques, who will compete with the sole purpose of helping Jenkins.
Holland said: ‘I can’t jinx myself by saying it’s enough. I’ve shown improvement from San Diego, where I was two minutes off Helen.
‘I’m showing I’m getting closer and closer to that medal potential and I just hope they give me the shot.’
Daring to consider the possibility of being given good news, the Gloucester athlete added: ‘There will be screaming, there will be tears, there will be the realisation of a 20-year dream.
‘There’ll be phone calls and tears to the parents. It makes me a bit emotional thinking about it now but I can’t get too carried away because I just don’t know.’
With so much at stake, it was not surprising to see British athletes to the fore at the end of the swim, led by Abbie Thorrington, who later dropped out after picking up a puncture.
A poor transition put Blatchford in the second pack on the bike round the hilly Casa de Campo course but she worked her way back and by the start of the run was part of one big group.
Holland, who cycled with a broken helmet buckle but was not penalised, was part of a leading group of seven until Ireland’s Aileen Morrison pushed the pace, but the British athlete dug deep to finish 45 seconds down, 23 seconds ahead of Blatchford.
Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig pulled away down the home straight to replicate her win here in 2010 while Morrison achieved her best WTS result in second with Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile third.
Holland struggled badly last season after a breakthrough year in 2010, and she has vowed to show the British public what she is capable of if selected for London.
‘They always say the second rising is the sweetest and it is true, if you don’t go through the lower times you don’t appreciate the highs so much,’ she said.
‘Coming back out with some top-10 performances feels absolutely amazing. And I think there’s more to come. I really believe that, with another couple of months under my belt, I can get back to my 2010 form and beyond that.
‘There was one day about four weeks ago when I had a bit of a meltdown and I thought maybe I can’t do this but every other day I’ve had the belief that it could happen.
Blatchford, 32, was more pessimistic about her chances of earning a place in her own right but would be a willing, if not entirely happy, domestique as she seeks a place at her first Olympics.
Blatchford said: ‘I’m probably not going to be selected outright, I don’t think any of us girls are going to from the sort of things we’ve been told, so it’s a domestique role I’m looking at to try to help Helen.
‘I want to go to the Games. Our funding’s from UK Sport and it’s all about medals, so I understand it but I would much prefer the three best athletes go.’
Blatchford struggled with stomach problems and made life difficult for herself by initially going to the wrong stand at the first transition.
She added: ‘Tenth isn’t bad but I’d rather it had been a bit of a smoother race. I don’t think I gave a particularly great display today but hopefully they’ll look at the last 18 months.’
Jodie Stimpson was the third British athlete across the line in 13th and Vanessa Raw 21st, while Kerry Lang dropped out during the bike leg.
The men’s race tomorrow will see Jonny Brownlee go off as favourite in the absence of his brother Alistair, while Tim Don and Will Clarke will hope to do enough to claim the final Olympic spot.