Non Stanford out to secure Rio Olympics spot in Chicago

Non Stanford
Non Stanford won the ITU World title in London in 2013

Welsh triathlete Non Stanford says she will have a "massive" advantage if she secures pre-qualification this month for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Stanford, 26, and Vicky Holland will earn early selection for Team GB by finishing in the top three at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Chicago.

They were second and third respectively in the Rio Test event on 2 August.

"I'll heave a sigh of relief and look forward without having to worry about qualifying next year," she said.

"It would be a massive advantage if you can go into the winter and prepare for that race in August and not aim to peak in March or April to qualify."

British Triathlon has ruled that any athlete who finishes in the first three at the test event and the race in Chicago on Friday, 18 September will be selected automatically for the Olympics.

Non Stanford (left) on the podium with Gwen Jorgenson and
Non Stanford (left) on the podium with USA's Gwen Jorgensen and Vicky Holland after the Rio Test event.

Fitness is the key

Stanford was World Under-23 champion in 2012 and won the senior title the following year.

But injuries meant she missed most of the 2014 season, including the Commonwealth Games, and did not make her comeback until the ITU event in Yokohama in May 2015.

"I'm feeling really strong at the minute," Stanford told BBC Wales Sport.

"Training has gone really really well since we've got back from Rio and at times I've surprised myself at how well I've been going.

"I don't have to chase fitness any more - I know it's there - and, fingers crossed, I can really show what sort of shape I am in Chicago and lay down a marker for what to expect at Rio next year - provided I can qualify myself."

Non Stanford with the Welsh flag
Non Stanford missed out on a chance to represent Wales when injury ruled her out of the 2014 Commonwealth Games

Injuries provide motivation

Stanford admits missing the Commonwealth Games and the chance to wear the Wales vest in Glasgow was a "massive blow".

"After two really tough years I've learned how to manage my body a lot better and how to manage my training load," she said.

"It provides me with the extra motivation and determination to make sure I don't miss out on another major championship.

"Everyone wants to be part of the Olympics and if I do that in a few weeks time I'll be very happy."

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