Olympics: Vicky Holland has hit form at the perfect time
TIMING your charge is crucial in the sport of triathlon and it is fair to say that Gloucester's Vicky Holland has timed her swim, bike and run towards the Team GB squad for London 2012 perfectly.
The 26-year-old former Cheltenham and County Harrier has enjoyed a superb 2012 race season and it is that form that will see her go for gold in London.
Top-seven finishes in International Triathlon Union events in San Diego and Madrid last month helped Holland fight off some intense competition to earn her a place on the British team.
She will be joined on the squad by current world number three Helen Jenkins and strong swimmer Lucy Hall, whose selection as a domestique or pacemaker caused uproar among the athletes who missed out.
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But Holland, herself ranked number nine in the world, knows that there will be massive advantages to having 'game changer' Hall in the team as both the leading British pair look to get off to a flying start at Hyde Park on August 4.
And with form behind her from her seventh-placed finish in Madrid and even stronger performance in San Diego, where she came home fifth, Holland approaches the Olympics in confident mood.
"Timing is everything they say and if I was going to have a good time to hit form it was absolutely San Diego and Madrid," she said.
"It's really helped to show that I am the in-form athlete out of the girls who were fighting for selection. No doubt it helped my cause.
"There's no one who can deny that as soon as Lucy got named in our Olympic team it changed the race for the women.
"She's a game changer for sure with the way she swims. I hope we do end up causing some kind of break on the day, that would be fantastic if we can get away."
Much of the controversy surrounding the selection was based around Hall's selection is that, in theory, triathlon is an individual and not a team event.
Medals are given out to individuals and not teams and there were arguments that Hall's selection was against the very ethos of the sport.
However, Holland is very much a team girl and even talks in the collective when discussing whether Great Britain can strike gold.
She sees no problem in Hall acting as pacemaker and believes that if the British girls can breakaway during the 1500-metre swim then there will still be an individual competition for gold.
And if the break does occur, Holland has been told that there could be some fearsome home support on offer around Hyde Park, with as many as a million supporters lining the route.
As one of the few 'free' Olympic events, massive crowds are expected to flock to the iconic central London venue in the hope of seeing a home winner.
"We really do have a very good chance of winning a gold, or at least a medal," Holland said.
"We are in it to win it, we are approaching it as a team and that's fantastic, so to be part of that feels really good.
"I've not really thought about the crowds, I think I will have to wait until the day of the Games before I believe that.
"I always think people are talking about triathlon but that's because it's my world, so I'm a bit oblivious about whether it really is talked about as much as everybody says.
"But I'm beginning to notice that it really is a buzz sport and more and more people are becoming aware of triathlon and want to come and watch a triathlon.
"I think that's fantastic because it is one of the very few free-to-view events on the day."
In among those crowds are sure to be a vast legion of friends and family who will get a rare chance to cheer their girl on home ground.
Holland said that reactions from her nearest and dearest were all different upon hearing of her selection.
From vast excitement and loud voices on the one hand, her father was rather more measured in his approach.
"There were varying degrees of excitement," she said. "Some of them screamed. Most of them were pretty excited and obviously so happy and so proud of me.
"The most calm reaction was from my dad, who said, 'Oh that's great, well done', but I know he's super proud in his own way."