Helen Jenkins cool under pressure to hit Olympics peak
Helen Jenkins (centre) bursts out of the Serpentine on her way to third in London
"Two years feels like quite a long time actually "
If Helen Jenkins is feeling the pressure ahead of a home Olympics then she is hiding it well. Although, to look at her, you wouldn't know she'd just run a couple of miles from her hotel to London's Hyde Park either.
Not a hair is out of place and there's no hint of perspiration in the 30C heat of the World Triathlon Championship media tent on the banks of the Serpentine.
Jenkins does not need to feel any pressure. On her day she has proven that she is the best in the world. That day was 5 June 2008 when, in the wind and rain of Toronto, she won the world title.
She is right; two years is a long time in this sport. Back in 2008 the world title was decided over one race, now it is a Formula One-style grand prix tour of the world - six races, one grand final.
Jenkins happy with Hyde Park Triathlon podium spot
Last season Jenkins finished fifth overall. This year she is also in fifth spot after five events, with a third place in London on Saturday boosting her place in the world standings.
"I missed the Hamburg leg of the series and I dropped six places. Everyone's so close together, there's very little to choose between us all," Jenkins said.
"The whole season is structured around the World Championship races and I'm improving as the year goes on. I was 15th in Sydney, ninth in Seoul and then I was on the podium after a third place in Madrid.
"So it was great to be back on the podium in London. I kind of wish it was second or first, I've had a lot of thirds recently, but it's fantastic in front of a home crowd.
"I really tried on the bike to push it and then on the run, there's some great runners in there and I didn't want it to be a sprint between 10 of us on that last lap."
This year should have included the added attraction, or distraction, of the Commonwealth Games only for triathlon to be dropped by the organisers of the Delhi Games - although it will return in Glasgow in 2014.
"It's nice not have to focus on it this year," Jenkins added. "Don't get me wrong, I love competing for Wales and I look forward to doing it again in 2014, but with there being a 'home' Olympics in two years there's much more emphasis on that than before."
It's about continually improving all three disciplines, we just take it year by year
Saturday's Hyde Park Triathlon took place on part of what will be the Olympic course in 2012 and Jenkins enjoyed her taste of things to come.
"The crowd was a lot bigger than last year and so many people know my name, I was getting so many shouts, which is brilliant," added Jenkins, who lives in Bridgend, south Wales.
"It's a really good atmosphere and you get a feeling for what it might be like in 2012.
Some athletes know exactly where they are on their four-year Olympic cycle.
Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas is in startling form at the Tour de France, while another Welshman - 400m hurdler Dai Greene - knows that nothing but gold at next week's European Championships will be considered satisfactory two years out from London.
But for Jenkins it is all about trying to hit peak form for the big events, with London 2012 now looming large in her sights.
"It's about continually improving all three disciplines," she added. "We just take it year by year, but in this sport you get injured a lot, so the schedule has to be flexible.
"Hopefully if I improve steadily I'll be in a position to take part in 2012 and be competing for a medal."
But do not confuse the relaxed attitude with a lack of drive or ambition - you do not need to shout your mouth off when you already have the medals to prove how good you are.
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