12 Jun 2008

BRIDGEND triathlete Helen Tucker got her preparations for the Beijing Olympics off to the perfect start as she won the triathlon world championships in Vancouver.

Tucker produced one of the best performances of her career to outsprint American Sarah Haskins at the death with the pre-race favourite and reigning champion, Vanessa Fernandes, struggling back in 10th.Helen Tucker 15

Having only decided to travel to Canada at the last minute, the 25-year-old was naturally delighted with her victory. And she admitted it would take a few days for the scale of her achievement to hit home.

"Vancouver is my new favourite place," she beamed. "It’s not going to sink in for a few days.

"I wasn't planning on coming to the worlds and it was kind of a last-minute decision. I’m glad I did now."

Tucker’s win also provided a big boost for Great Britain’s Olympic campaign. It now means the GB team can send three triathletes to China.

Having already secured her own place at the games by coming second in the Madrid World Cup in May, Tucker didn’t have to compete in Vancouver.

But she said the added motivation of earning an extra spot for Britain made the decision for her in the end.

"That's really why I came to the worlds," she said of earning an extra spot for Great Britain.

"I decided to come 10 days ago so I’m really happy now.

"After all I’d been through with injuries last year, I thought that race in Madrid was enough for me. I almost withdrew my entry here."