LONDON 2012: World champions Brownlee and Jenkins leads British Olympic triathlon team
WORLD triathlon champion Alisitair Brownlee will make his first appearance of season today just hours after he was confirmed on Great Britain's Olympic team.
CONTENDER: Alistair Brownlee leads a six-strong triathlon team that includes three serious medal hopes (ITU)
Brownlee has missed the opening three World Triathlon Series races with an Achilles tear but will look to put fitness concerns aside at the GE Blenheim Triathlon on Saturday.
"Now that the team has been announced it feels like we’re a step much closer," he said.
"I’ve also got my first race of the season this weekend, which a big milestone for me personally and now I’m looking forward to the next eight weeks of intense preparation for the summer."
He is joined on the team by brother Jonathan, who underlined his own medal credentials with victories against world-class fields in San Diego and Madrid in recent weeks.
As expected, former world champion Tim Don is overlooked for selection after his failure to make the podium in Madrid with the third spot going to Stuart Hayes.
Hayes, a long-term member of the British team, will serve as a domestique to the Brownlee brother's serious medal ambitions.
Women's world champion Helen Jenkins will be supported by British number two Vicky Holland and rising star Lucy Hall, 20, who was selected in preference to the more experienced and higher ranked Liz Blatchford and several others.
“I’m really excited to be going to my second Olympics," said Jenkins, who showed her class with an impressive victory in San Diego last month and won last year's test event over the same course in London.
"The fact it is a home Games is making the experience so much different to four years ago. The level of interest in the team is huge, and I hope the nation will really get behind us, as home support really does give us an advantage.”
Great Britain has never won a triathlon medal since the sport made its Olympic debut in 2000 - despite often arriving at the Games with athletes tipped for the podium.
But with two reigning world champions - and a world sprint champion - in their squad, expectations will be higher than ever.
However, team officials have made no apologies for their decision to pick two dedicated domestiques ahead of higher ranked athletes.
Hayes is currently 123rd on the men's world rankings while Will Clarke is tenth and Don 13th. Hall is even lower, 148th, and she's been selected ahead of five women in the world's top 100.
"We are now a world leading nation in the sport of triathlon, with the number one ranked male and female athletes in Alistair Brownlee and Helen Jenkins," said Team GB chef de mission Andy Hunt.
"It is encouraging that both athletes have already tasted success at the Olympic venue after winning the test event last summer.
“With the full vocal support and encouragement of the British fans behind them, I have every confidence that these athletes can create history and achieve Team GB's first ever Olympic triathlon medals in Hyde Park this summer.”
© Sportsbeat 2012