ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego: Oakley Goes 1, 2, 3…Twice, Olympic Dreams Come True For US Athletes

GALLERYPodium

Southern California, home to theme parks, movie stars and some of the best weather in the world, is often referred to as a place where dreams come true. There were no Disney characters, Hollywood A-listers or fantasy lands in San Diego during the ITU World Triathlon Series, but it was definitely the happiest place on earth for many of Oakley’s best athletes and Olympic hopefuls. The women’s race on Friday saw a podium filled with Oakley athletes, while the women’s US Olympic Team was decided; also a clean sweep for Oakley. Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins topped the women’s field, with Australia’s Erin Densham close behind. USA’s Laura Bennett rounded out the podium while landing herself the last qualifying spot to represent Team USA in the London Olympics. On the men’s side, USA’s Manny Huerta was the story of the day, joining Hunter Kepmer in grabbing the final two spots on Team USA.

From the get go of the women’s race, a lead pack of eight broke away from the field, and never looked back. Among them were Helen Jenkins, sporting the new Oakley RadarLock, Erin Densham, Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins (USA) and more. The lead was passed back and forth throughout the bike and run portions of the race, but in the end, Jenkins was untouchable, cruising to the victory 21 seconds ahead of Densham in second place. The big story was the home country’s Laura Bennett. A third and final spot on Team USA was available to all the American women on Friday. The catch: as long as the first American woman to cross the line was in the top nine, she would be going to London. Battling hard all day with countrywoman Sarah Haskins, Bennett prevailed not only in the top nine, but on the podium in third. Clearly emotional, Bennett crossed the finish line in tears, hugging her husband, Oakley athlete Greg Bennett, elated to be on her way to the Olympic games to represent the Unites States. Bennett finished just outside the podium with a fourth place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. She will look to improve on that performance, while joining Oakley teammates Sarah Groff and Gwen Jorgensen in London on August 7th.

“It’s tough when you have go up against a good friend,” Bennett said on her battle with Haskins for the final US spot. “I put a lot of pressure on this day. Last year in London I just had a terrible day for some reason; I’m still just not quite sure what happened. You know, in the end I think it was a blessing in disguise because there were things that I changed in my training that I wouldn’t have changed if I had made the team and I think it has made me a better athlete. It’s hard to have the courage to change things when things are going well. So, I’m really happy.”

On Saturday, the men took to the Mission Beach, CA course, dubbed “The birthplace of the modern triathlon.” The big story for the home crowd was the two spots up for grabs for the men’s US Olympic Team. The stipulations: the first US man to cross the finish line was an automatic member of Team USA. If the second US finisher was within the top nine, he was in too. Leave it to Oakley’s Manny Huerta to create some drama for race fans and US triathlon followers all over the country. Hunter Kemper was the first American across the line, finishing fifth and qualifying for his fourth Olympic team. Manny Huerta kept it interesting however, finishing in ninth, the last possible finish he could have to join Kemper in London. Huerta too came across the ITU San Diego finish line unable to keep in his emotions, reflecting on his journey to London and his mother on Mother’s Day.

“Today is Mother’s Day weekend so this is the best gift I can give her – that I didn’t give up on my fight, on my dream. [so she doesn’t give up] on her fight with cancer,” Huerta said. “All those things have been on my mind, affecting me a little bit. Hopefully she’ll be in London as well watching me from the stands.”

It was a weekend filled with races within the race in San Diego. The competition was fierce and the emotions were running high. Congratulations to Helen for her commanding victory and for taking over the points lead in the ITU season series. Erin Densham made a strong case for her selection on the Australian women’s team in London. Laura Bennett was a monster out there and we wish her the best in London with her Oakley teammates Sarah Groff and Gwen Jorgensen. And while Jonathan Brownlee took the men’s race victory, the Oakley family couldn’t be more proud of Manny Huerta for his ninth place finish and his humble victory within the big race, claiming his spot on the US team. Good luck to all the Oakley triathletes in London!

ITU World Triathlon San Diego
(1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run)
Women – Complete Results

1. Helen Jenkins (GBR), 1:58:21 OAKLEY
2. Erin Densham (AUS), 1:59:26 OAKLEY
3. Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), 2:00:11 OAKLEY
4. Jessica Harrison (FRA), 2:00:14
5. Vicky Holland (GBR), 2:00:28
6. Flora Duffy (BER), 2:00:46 OAKLEY
7. Anne Haug (GER), 2:00:50
8. Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 2:00:56
9. Emma Moffatt (AUS), 2:01:18 OAKLEY
10. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS), 2:01:33

ITU World Triathlon San Diego
(1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run)
Men – Complete Results

1. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:48:47
2. Sven Rieder (SUI) 1:48:52
3. Richard Murray (RSA) 1:49:01
4. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:49:09 OAKLEY
5. Hunter Kemper (USA) 1:49:18
6. Ryan Sissons (NZL) 1:49:22 OAKLEY
7. Tim Don (GBR) 1:49:25 OAKLEY
8. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 1:49:29
9. Manuel Huerta (USA) 1:49:31 OAKLEY
10. Kris Gemmell (NZL) 1:49:40 OAKLEY