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Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 17:15 UK

Tucker 'shocked' at Olympic nod

Helen Tucker
Helen Tucker is aiming for a medal at the Beijing Olympics

Welsh triathlete Helen Tucker admits she is 'still in shock' after almost certainly securing an Olympic place.

Tucker is expected to be named in the British team for Beijing later this month after coming second at the Madrid World Cup at the end of May.

"I really didn't expect to do so well, it was shock," said the 24-year-old from Bridgend.

She is set to be named alongside Hollie Avil, 18, from Northampton as the two British women in the triathlon event.

Tucker, who is currently training at home in Bridgend, is overjoyed to have made the grade after a serious ankle injury in 2006 threatened her Olympic dream.

"I had so many injuries last year I didn't even know if I would make the start line for the selection race," she said.

Ironically, she said, the tear to her Achilles tendon may have helped her.

"The injury actually worked well because, although I couldn't run, I could work on my swimming and my biking. I always kept training because I wanted to get back on track."

And although she did not resume full training until five weeks before the qualifier in Madrid Tucker said on the day she knew she had to go for broke.

"I had a really good swim and I came out first which I have never done before. Then I hit the bike course, which is similar the one in Beijing, and I worked really hard.

"Going into the run we [the lead group] had a two-and-a-half minute lead and I thought unless I had a really bad run I would make the qualification - but I didn't quite believe it until I crossed the finish line."

The British Olympic Association will officially confirm Tucker and Avil have made the team on June 27.

Tucker is now training hard under the guidance of her coaching team - fiancÚ Olympic triathlete Marc Jenkins and Welsh Triathlon's assistant performance coach Rick Velati.

Of Marc she said: "Because he's been there and done it, it really helps. He has trained with the best athletes in the world for the past 10 years and you can't help but learn from them. I can use that knowledge."

The Olympics is not the only major event in Tucker's diary this year as she and Jenkins will marry in October.

But Tucker is reluctant to set herself any other goals just yet.

"There are only two girls in world triathlon really - World Champion Vanessa Fernandes from Portugal and the Australian Emma Snowsill - but I don't want to go into the race thinking the best I can do is come third because I believe that anything can happen at an Olympics.

"I'd love to get a medal - everyone would - but I just have to see how the next few weeks go. At the moment I just want to get back in to training and enjoy the fact that I look set to going to Beijing."

see also
Tucker sits out World Triathlon
30 Aug 06 |  Triathlon
Tucker and Don win British titles
12 Jun 06 |  Triathlon
GB name 16-strong triathlon team
09 Aug 06 |  Triathlon
Team GB for Beijing
29 Nov 07 |  Team GB
Triathlon on the BBC
08 Nov 07 |  Triathlon

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