25th March 2012, 08:10 AM
Densham win heats up Olympics race - ABC Online
Posted March 25, 2012 17:46:09
A stomach bug delivered a blow to Emma Snowsill's hopes of defending her Olympic triathlon title on Sunday.
But the form of Erin Densham may also be making Snowsill feel queasy after she continued her remarkable comeback from heart problems to win the World Cup season opener at Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
Three-time world champion Snowsill finally succumbed to a lingering stomach bug as she withdrew before what was set to be her first race of the year.
Her Olympic selection chances may now hinge on her performance in the world championship series opener in Sydney on April 14.
Two of the three spots on the Australian women's triathlon team are left, with two-time world champion Emma Moffatt having secured the initial selection.
But Emma Jackson has all but wrapped up one after she claimed the Oceania title in Devonport earlier this month and Densham boosted her chances of securing one with Sunday's dominant World Cup win.
Densham dictated a field featuring New Zealand's world number two Andrea Hewitt from the outset, emerging from the water first and setting the pace in the bike leg before kicking away with a typically powerful run.
She won by almost a minute ahead of Switzerland's Nicola Spirig with Hewitt third.
Moffatt finished ninth.
The race continued Beijing Olympian Densham's comeback story.
She considered retirement in 2009 after repeated heart concerns.
In one race in the US Densham had to be dragged from the water when her heartbeat raced out of control.
Barely three years after going under the knife to correct the heart condition that had troubled her since the age of 12, Densham now has London in her sights.
Despite coming from a swimming background, Densham usually has a weak first leg in the water - but not on Sunday.
It helped her destroy the field in wo hours, three minutes and 31 seconds - well ahead of Spirig (2:04.24) and Hewitt (2:04.30) while a London-focused Moffatt clocked 2:05.48.
"I have always been an outsider for London," Densham said.
"I don't know if this puts me back in the game or not.
"Sydney will be big. But I will keep racing no matter what, doing what I enjoy doing."
Rewind three years and it was all so different for Densham.
"That period was the toughest. It took a lot out of me to the point where I thought I had to quit the sport," she said.
"I eventually had the operation in 2009 - it was a long slow road back.
"Obviously I have had a hard run and it beats you up a little.
"But I am feeling good at training. I am glad I have been able to show everyone what I am capable of.
"I am back."
Of Densham's dominance, Moffatt said: "She has definitely made it hard for selectors. I am glad I am already in the team."
But Moffatt backed Snowsill to lift before London.
"I ran with Emma this morning and she was too weak to race today," she said.
"It will be tough (to make the Olympic team). But Emma is Olympic champion and three-time world champion for a reason.
"I have no doubt if she gets over this illness she will be firing for London."
Topics: triathlon, other-sports, olympics-summer, sport, mooloolaba-4557, qld, australia
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