HELEN TUCKER IS OFF TO BEIJING

27 Jun 2008

Bridgend triathlete Helen Tucker has her plane ticket firmly booked to Beijing, after she was today selected by the British Olympic Association. The 24-year-old has made remarkable progress this year following two years of injury. She will now line up on the pontoon on 18 August in Beijing alongside GB team-mate Hollie Avil. Helen Tucker 14

She explained, "I have had a great year so far and I’ll be looking to carry my form into Beijing. Last year was a nightmare – I only did one last race as I was continuously injured and it has taken a long time to get over it."

The Olympic route will take Tucker and co around the Ming Tomb Reservoir in the Changping district of northern Beijing. And although the course has received some recent tweaks, she has already excelled over the terrain:

"I finished third in a World Cup on the course in 2005. Having raced well on the course is obviously really positive. It has changed a little bit but it’s good to go out there with familiarity. There is quite a hill on the bike and the run’s hilly too but I think it’s the humidity which will make it difficult."

Tucker measured up to the qualifying standard earlier this year when she finished second at the Madrid World Cup. And things have only got better – she caused one of the most shocking upsets in recent years when she took the ITU World Championships by force.

It will be Tucker’s first Olympic foray but she will be able to glean top advice from fiance and coach Marc Jenkins. The pair are due to get married in October. Jenkins famously ran with his bike on his shoulder after suffering a mechanical fault in the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.

Helen Tucker 10He is now struggling with injury but has been heavily involved with his girlfriend’s progress. He is now one half of her coaching team:

"I have two main coaches – Marc and Rick Velati. I think the combination has really helped me over the last few months. Marc is so experienced and has spent time with all the best athletes in the world and has learnt so much from them," explains Tucker.

Tucker – who has also achieved bronze medal podium finishes at the Under 23 European Championships and ITU Salford World Cup – also competed at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

She had been a very realistic medal target for Team Wales but a nasty bike crash put a stop to any podium hopes. Scraping herself off the road and back onto her bike, she, despite vicious cuts, crossed the St Kilda’s finishing line in 14th place. Helen Tucker

Simon Clegg, Team GB 2008 Chef de Mission, said:

"I am delighted to welcome these athletes in to Team GB. The squad has a great mix of experience and promising new talent, not least three World Champions among them (junior and senior). I wish them well in their final preparations for the Olympic Games and look forward to some exciting performances in Beijing."

Heather Williams, Team GB Triathlon Team Leader for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games said:

"We have prepared meticulously for the Olympic Games and will go to Beijing knowing that we are in the best position to bring back Britain’s first triathlon medal."