August 2, 2015
Non Stanford one step closer to Rio 2016 Olympics
All eyes were on Rio this weekend as the best of the best in the triathlon world gathered for the Rio Test Event to try their luck at qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games triathlon race. From team Orca we had Non Stanford (GBR), Sophia Saller (GER) and Alessandro Fabian (ITA) competing. It was Stanford who had the best day out, finishing 2nd place behind the seemingly unstoppable 12th consecutive winner Gwen Jorgensen (USA).
It was quite an amazing sight to see the iconic Cococabana beach closed down for this important qualifying race, with crowds of local Brazilian people turning out to cheer on the triathletes. Under clear skies and a hot sun, a large front pack emerged from the swim to start on the bike, with 27 in the group. This large pack managed to stay together for the whole race, maintaining a 1 minute lead on the chasers. In second transition it was the Brits and the Americans that came out strong on to the run with Jorgensen, and fellow American Sarah True, along with Stanford and her British teammate Vicky Holland pacing together for the first two laps until Jorgensen stormed away. Stanford was able to stick with Jorgensen for one more lap, and this is what ultimately got Non in the position she needed to be for second place.
Non had this to say about her day, "For us this is step one, but probably the most significant step. But once you have done one step, the next step gets a little bit more obtainable,” said Stanford. “I was unsure how it was going to go today, I had eight weeks of good training, but before that I was training and running all over the place. Back in February I just thought about doing steps, so to think I have gone from there to then come in second in the Test Event, it just shows the progress I have made. I am as happy as most really.”
Although for Jorgensen this meant an automatic entry into the Rio Games, for the Brits it doesn't work like this, with Great Britain requiring another podium finish in the World Championships this season. As Non continues her comeback from injury, she can at least feel satisfied that everything is on track and the first step to Olympic qualification is done!
For other Orca athletes, Saller with 29th place and Fabian with an unfortunate DNF after a great start, their work is still cut out for them in the Road to Rio.