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Lauren Campbell places twelfth at ITU Mooloolaba

Ellen Pennock and Alison Hooper, finish fourth and fifth in Oceania Cup.

Lauren Campbell continued her long road back into elite form with a 12th-place finish while returning to World Cup action from for the first time in one year after battling through a series of injuries including a fractured collarbone.

The 30-year-old Olympian was not only faced with battling against 50 of the top triathletes in the world, but she also had one of the toughest courses on the globe in Mooloolaba, Australia on her hands Sunday. Campbell, of Vancouver, clocked a time of two hours, seven minutes, two seconds (2:07.02).

“I was pleased with my performance, especially on the swim and bike,” said Campbell. “Mooloolaba is possibly the most challenging course on the ITU circuit that does not allow you to hide your fitness with the wavy ocean swim, hilly ride and run combined with the heat, humidity and wind. This finish here showed I’m coming back to form.”

A solid 1.5-kilometre swim, Campbell was close to making the break-away pack heading onto the 40-kilometre course, but she missed catching a wave to shore which resulted in a gap opening in the field exiting the water. Working with the chase pack, Campbell built strength on the bike while closing the gap on a lead pack loaded with many of the world’s biggest triathlon names.

“My swim has been my weakness over the years especially with the collarbone injury in 2010,” said Groves. “I felt strong today, and my run was decent, but I still feel as though I am building my leg speed after such a long time away from training and racing.”

Australia’s Erin Densham definitely had no rust in the season-opener. Densham thrilled the hometown crowd after running away with the gold medal, posting a time of 2:03.32. Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig was the next to cross the line nearly one minute behind Densham, clocking a silver-medal time of 2:04.24. Andrea Hewitt, of New Zealand, rounded out the women’s podium in third at 2:04.31.

Edmonton’s Chantell Widney was the only other Canadian to start, but did not finish.

Campbell’s schedule will not get any easier over the next three months as she battles to earn Canada a second women’s triathlon spot at the Olympic Summer Games in London.

“I will be competing in every World Cup and World Triathlon Series race before the end of qualifying in June,” said Campbell. “I haven’t earned the luxury to peak at just one race this year. Every race and every point counts at this stage so every time I step on the start line that is the forefront of my thoughts. This is what it will take to get me to London.”

The future looks bright for the nation’s women’s triathletes well beyond London. With Paula Findlay leading the way at 22 years of age, two young Canucks hit the start line for their first Olympic distance triathlon at the Premium Oceania Cup in Mooloolaba earlier in the day for senior development level athletes.

Calgary’s 19-year-old Ellen Pennock, who is one of the fastest runners for her age group, narrowly missed the podium in fourth spot after posting a time of 2:05.10. Victoria’s Alison Hooper finished on Pennock’s heels in fifth place. The 20-year-old Hooper ran to a time 2:05.33.

Australia’s Sarah Deuble won the women’s race with a time of 2:02.52.

For complete coverage of the Mooloolaba World Cup, please visit www.triathlon.org. Live video coverage from Mooloolaba will also be available on race days at triathlonlive.tv.

The World Triathlon Series gets underway in Sydney, Australia, April 14-15, 2012

Elite Women

1. Erin Densham AUS 2:03:32

2. Nicola Spirig SUI 2:04:24

3. Andrea Hewitt NZL 2:04:31

4. Liz Blatchford GBR 2:05:17

5. Rachel Klamer NED 2:05:20

6. Daniela Ryf SUI 2:05:30

7. Laura Bennett USA 2:05:35

8. Gwen Jorgensen USA 2:05:40

9. Emma Moffatt AUS 2:05:49

10. Lisa Norden SWE 2:06:12

12. Lauren Campbell CAN 2:07:02