WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES, LONDON Dates: 15 August (women), 16 August (men) Venue: Hyde Park, London Coverage: Men's race live, plus highlights of the women's race on the BBC
By Mark Ashenden
Reigning world triathlon champion Helen Jenkins believes the new seven-leg world series will boost the sport.
Jenkins won a single race to take last year's title but must perform over the whole year to defend her crown.
London hosts an event in August, with cash prizes and live TV race coverage, and Jenkins said: "I don't want this just to be a fad - it's very exciting.
"Every race will be really competitive. It will be hard to beat last year but I will build slowly."
After its Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000, triathlon in Britain has experienced huge leaps in popularity and participation, thanks to the likes of Jenkins, 2006 world champion Tim Don and young stars Will Clarke and Hollie Avil.
Jenkins, from Bridgend, was a swimmer until getting hooked by triathlon aged 16, and calls it "the new marathon".
She will be one of the stars in Hyde Park on 15 August when London hosts the sixth race of the World Championship Series.
A post-Olympic year is always difficult for athletes, having to refocus, recover from injury or coming back after a rest
Points are accumulated over seven races, a fact Jenkins says will improve competition and quality of field, with an athlete's best four results, plus their showing in grand final on Australia's Gold Coast in September counting towards the overall world titles.
A prize fund of $150,000 (£98,500) is available for the Hyde Park event, which will test the 2012 Olympic plan for a 1,500m swim in the Serpentine before a 40km cycle and 10km run.
The last year has been an unusual one for Jenkins, who was crowned world champion as Helen Tucker in Vancouver in June.
After a disappointing 21st place at the Beijing Olympics, she began an eight-month "relaxation" period, which included a house move and a marriage to coach Marc Jenkins - the triathlete who finished last in Athens in 1996 after carrying his broken bike for 2km.
"I haven't had time off for four years so it's all been fun," she added. "I just wanted to be normal for a few months.
"A post-Olympic year is always difficult for athletes, having to refocus, recover from injury or coming back after a rest.
"It all adds up to athletes being even more motivated. Last year was my best ever but I've had to put it all in perspective. I've always had a four-year plan."
Jenkins admitted many of the triathletes were not fully enthused behind the one-off title race being replaced by the new series until after the Korean event on 3 May.
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