TW Interviews: Helen Jenkins

Britain's top female triathlete reveals why she'll be giving it her all to qualify for London 2012


Posted: 16 February 2011

Helen Jenkins is Britain's leading female triathlete and took the world title in 2008. She took the bronze position in the 2009 and 2010 World Championship circuit (a new series of seven events rather than a single race) and is one of Britain's leading contenders for an Olympic triathlon medal. With British triathlete talent booming, Jenkins explains why she'll be racing harder than ever - and how she keeps motivated.

Q. How have you found the new World Championship Series format?

A. It's a big change from the one-off World Championships and I think it's improved the standard of racing. In every World Championship series event the field quality is very high and it makes for a good race.

Q. Were you pleased with your performance last season?

A. I had my most consistent year yet. I won the British Championships and London Triathlon, achieved three WCS podiums and finished the season ranked fourth in the world - so I'm pretty happy!

Q. What has been your career highlight so far?

A. Becoming ITU World Champion in 2008.

Q. You are married to your coach and fellow triathlete Marc Jenkins, does that produce any tension?

A. No, not really, we have the occasional disagreement about training but mostly it works out pretty well. Marc trains full-time too, so it makes training easier and more enjoyable.

Q. You had psychological coaching in your twenties. Why? What did it teach you?

A. I've worked with a sports psychologist on and off since about 2005. I've found it helpful, but I know some people who it just doesn't work for - I think you need to find someone you click with. I've learnt a lot about how I can best prepare for races and about goal setting.

Q. How are you training at the moment?

A. I'm in winter training at the moment and I'm currently alternating between training blocks at home and training camps in Lanzarote. It's been good to get away from the snow late last year and to able to get in some good cycling sessions. When I'm at home I focus on my swimming with my club and on my running.

Q. What are your hopes for next season?

A. We have some Olympic selection races this season, so I'll be aiming to race well in those. And of course I hope to get faster at all three disciplines.

Q. How confident are you about qualifying for London 2012?

A. My form has been good over the past few seasons, but now we're moving into the year of the selection races, I need to keep that form and improve on it if I can. It's going to be tough to make the GB Olympic team and I won't take anything for granted. Lots of girls want the Olympic spots and I'll just have to race the best I can.

Q. Do you have any training tips?

A. Enjoy it and don't make it too serious. I have goals and you have to keep them in mind so training has a purpose, but try to enjoy it - even the harder sessions.

Q. Do you have any nutritional tips?

A. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables and always have a few treats a week. I also make sure I have a recovery drink after hard running sessions - my favourite is Mars® Refuel.

Q. You're one of Speedo's first sponsored triathletes. How will you be working together?

A. I'll be wearing Speedo's wetsuits. I raced in their Speedo TriELITE wetsuit last year and I'm racing in it again this year. I found it great to swim in - in every wetsuit swim I was in the top three out of the water, so I'm looking forward to swimming in it again this year.  

Q. Why does Britain have such a strong pool of world-class triathletes?

A. It's hard to say but we definitely have a lot of athletes performing at a high level at the moment. I'm not sure if this is because of our support system or because of our talent identification system. Maybe we just have a highly motivated bunch of athletes aiming for London 2012!

Q. Do you have a mantra when training gets tough?

A. On days when my motivation is low, a quote by Steve Prefontaine [an American long-distance runner] helps me: "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Helen Jenkins competes in the Speedo TriELITE Wetsuit. For more information go to www.speedo.co.uk.


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