Underdog Holland issues warning to world elite

VICKY HOLLAND: Leeds-based triathlete is optimistic about causing a shock in Rio.
VICKY HOLLAND: Leeds-based triathlete is optimistic about causing a shock in Rio.
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Vicky Holland is relishing the role of underdog to GB team-mates Non Stanford and Helen Jenkins who the Leeds-based star hopes she can upstage at the Rio Olympics.

Unlike Holland, former world champions Stanford and Jenkins have both savoured victories in this year’s ITU World Triathlon Series with Jenkins – fifth at London 2012 – taking gold in April’s Gold Coast leg to seal her ticket to Rio. Stanford – heading for her Olympic debut – was then victorious in Cape Town where Holland had to settle for sixth.

Yet Holland fared best of the GB entries in the recent Leeds leg by finishing third and the Gloucester-born athlete – who was 26th at London 2012 – is quietly confident about her chances in Rio.

Holland reasoned: “Maybe given that I didn’t race particularly well in Cape Town this year and I was a bit disappointed with that, you would probably say that I am the underdog of the team currently, with the other two having won races this year. But actually that’s a real nice place to be. It’s a luxury.

“If people are chatting about the others and leaving me out, well, I’ll just go about doing my own thing and we’ll see on August 20 won’t we!”

The USA’s Leeds and Yokohoma victor Gwen Jorgensen is the one major stumbling block. Holland admitted: “Gwen got a really good tactic – it’s to run really fast and there’s not much you can really do about that. She is obviously a factor in our thinking going to Rio – we’d be stupid not to consider that she’s the favourite.

“Everybody knows that she’s the favourite but at the same time that’s not always a blessing, to be labelled as the favourite and from such a long time out. We have our own thoughts about potential ways to beat her and we know that it’s possible – Helen showed that earlier this year.

“That said, it would take a phenomenal performance from any of us, from anybody at all to do it on the day, but that’s what we aspire to.

“I think there’s a huge chance for medals for us, I really do. How many is probably the question but that’s an amazing position to be in.”