The reigning ITU world champion Helen Jenkins
, was in contention until the final kilometre of the run when she started to fade as the leading group of four pulled away.
Jenkins, who finished 21st in Beijing, was aided by Lucy Hall
, 20, from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, the youngest athlete in the field, who led the field out of the swim and supported Jenkins on the bike.
Hall came out of the first transition in the lead group, however, she backed off the pace to allow Helen and the chase group to catch up on the second bike lap. Vicky Holland
slipped down the order during the bike leg after crashing on the damp course.
On the run, Jenkins took charge as an elite group of triathletes battled it out for the medal positions. As the run progressed a lead group of five emerged which featured Erin Densham (AUS), Nicola Spirig (SUI), Lisa Norden (SWE), Jenkins and Sarah Groff (USA) who had impressively battled her way back to join the lead group after falling back.
Sadly, as the pace quickened on the final lap, Jenkins begin to fade. There was a sprint for the line between Spirig and Norden that ended in a photo finish. Spirig was declared the winner in a breathtaking finale, and Densham took third.
After finishing fifth, Helen commented: “I am so grateful to Vicky and Lucy, they put me in the right position, they delivered me to the right place, but I didn’t have the legs on that last lap, the girls who got the medals, they deserved that.”
“I have an amazing team that has got me to the start line. The crowd was amazing. I think if they weren’t there, I would have been a bit further back, they really pushed me. I got everything out of myself today and thanks to the British Triathlon team, the preparation has been perfect, they’ve thought of everything and made it so easy for us.”
finished the race in 26th position, commenting: “I hit the deck pretty hard, but got straight back up again, I just couldn’t quite get onto the pack. From that point onwards it was a case of damage limitation and try to do anything I could not to drag anybody up to Helen.
“I ran a lot quicker than I thought I would, but that wasn’t what I was here to do and I am just sorry that I couldn’t contribute to Helen anymore than I actually did on the day. We are really proud of what Helen did, she did everything she could do.”
Commenting on the crowds support, she added: “Phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal there was only two or three spots on the course where you couldn’t hear anything - where the crowd weren’t allowed to be! It was almost deafeningly quiet, because you’re just used to pure noise all the way round, it was absolutely incredible.”
who eventually crossed the line in 33rd place added: “I know that she has worked so hard over in the last few years, and I really wanted her to get it, me and Vicky are proud of her, really proud of her.
“Helen did everything she possibly could; she’s not had the best preparation, but its sport, that’s what happens, you get injured sometimes. But she came out the other end and she came fifth, me and Vicky are so proud of her.
“I am really happy to finish my first Olympic Games in London, it was brilliant.”
Malcolm Brown, British Triathlon Olympic Performance Manager summed up today’s event: “We shouldn't forget that's the best ever performance by a British triathlete. No one can question how hard Helen worked for that and she just fell short on the final lap in one of the tightest triathlons ever.
“The contribution from the team and the home crowd made a huge difference.”
The crowds were out in force today to cheer on Team GB, with a course lined with vocal spectators. The focus will now go to the men’s event on Tuesday 7 August at 11:30am where the Brownlee brothers and Stuart Hayes
take over from the women in Britain’s bid to win a first Olympic triathlon medal.