Triathlon: Helen Jenkins ready to return to action after 18 months out

Triathlete Helen Jenkins
Triathlete Helen Jenkins

Double triathlon world champion Helen Jenkins returns to action in March for the first time since the 2012 Olympics.

Jenkins, 29, will compete in a sprint distance race in New Zealand before the first World series event in Auckland.

The Welsh athlete has been sidelined since finishing fifth in London with a knee injury and a back problem that required surgery.

"This last 18 months have knocked me about a bit and it is just been a tough 18 months," said Jenkins.

"I wouldn't say I have lost confidence, but I just want to get back and see what happens.

"The motivation was there but I wasn't able to do anything and I was in too much pain when I was training.

"I had a small back procedure in July last year and since then I have been training progressively.

"What I have had over the last few months is a real good consistency of training and I am not sure what to expect for my first race in over a year.

"I have been out of it for so long and I don't know what my form is and that is nerve wracking but exciting."

Bridgend-based Jenkins was one of the favourites to win a medal at London 2012, having been the 2008 and 2011 ITU World Champion.

But a recurring knee injury and visits to the British Olympic Association rehab unit in Bisham Abbey did not see any improvement until a back operation last summer.

"I spent time there, but nothing was improving," said Jenkins.

Jenkins missed out on an Olympic triathlon medal, finishing fifth in Hyde Park as Switzerland's Nicola Spirig took gold.

Jenkins, the world champion at the time, had entered the Olympics in excellent race form, winning in San Diego, her last World Series race leading up to the Games.

But a knee injury had limited her training and had a critical effect on her ability during the run in the Olympics.

"When I look back, there is always what could have been," said Jenkins

"I had such a disrupted build up to that race and I was only 30 seconds down in the end. I still cannot believe that...after all the training I missed.

"It took a while to get over it and it hurt for a while because I was injured.

"I couldn't train and had to have the time off and we had to figure out what the problem was.

"It took over a year in the end and I was just a bit lost."

Jenkins's absence coincided with the emergence of another Welsh athlete - Swansea's Non Stanford - as a force on the world stage.

Stanford won the world junior title in 2012 and followed up by claiming the ITU title in her first season as a senior in 2013.

Both athletes are likely to figure in a strong Welsh line-up for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July 2014.