Chrissie Wellington believes Britain are in a strong position to collect three triathlon medals at London 2012.
The British triathlete and four-time World Ironman Champion is confident of success for the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonathan, and Helen Jenkins at their home Olympic Games.
And Wellington has given her backing to Team GB’s squad selection, which includes athletes whose primary role will be as domestiques – there to ensure the team’s medal hopes have the best possible chance of claiming gold.
Bury St Edmonds-born Wellington, who will return to competition in the new year following a self-imposed break, admits selecting the right squad will have been difficult but she is sure Team GB can reap the rewards.
“It is a very difficult one,” said the 35-year-old.
“A lot of the athletes have worked very hard to be considered for selection and could have been selected perhaps in their own right.
“But the focus very much for British triathlon is to try and secure those gold medals and they have picked the team of athletes that can best enable them to do that.
“The domestiques wouldn’t have been taken could they not be an assistance to the Brownlees and to Helen and I hope that kind of strategy pays off for Great Britain.
“The Brownlee brothers and Helen are fantastic athletes and looking at recent form they are going into the races as very, very strong favourites.
“Without wanting to put too much pressure on them I definitely think that we can expect them to be featuring among the medals and hopefully the gold medal ones come early August.”
Wellington is enjoying some time off from competition following last year’s Ironman success. She has tickets for the Olympics, and is particularly looking forward to watching the fencing as “something I’ve never seen before”.
But soon enough she will be back in her running shoes, on her bike, and in the water for more training ahead of a return to gruelling World Ironman action to regain her title in 2013.
“The intention is to go back to racing next year,” she revealed.
“I’ve just taken this year off to really celebrate what I have achieved and use my platform as world champion to do different things.
“I’ve done some charity work and some work with the Government and it has been a really exciting year.
“I haven’t taken much rest so it’s been really enjoyable to do different things but the intention is to go back to racing.
“The work for that will start closer to the end of the year but I haven’t hung up my lycra totally and I still do a little bit of training each day.”
Wellington was speaking during World Sport Day, part of Lloyds TSB’s National School Sport Week, during which she gave an insight into her sport to pupils at Burntwood School in London.
She said: “Sport is such an amazing vehicle for bringing countries together and bringing different cultures together, and events like these are really wonderful to be a part of.”
Lloyds TSB National School Sport Week took place from 25-29 June 2012 and is Britain’s biggest school sport event with more than four million pupils staging their own Games this year. Find out more at lloydstsb.com/london2012.
Paul Smith, Sportsbeat for Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine