After being crowned the women’s Under23 world champion in 2006, Erin Densham (AUS) looked prime to continue her hot streak in 2007 with a win at the Oceania Championships. Her momentum continued, qualifying her for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
However, the next Olympic quad appeared less promising after she underwent corrective surgery for supra ventricular tachycardia late in 2009. A determined Densham returned to racing the following year, but failed to finish in four World Triathlon Series races in 2010, including the Grand Final in Budapest. After the disappointing season, Densham backed off her race load in 2011. The move was a risky one with a second Olympic qualification on the line.
The decision proved to be the right one. Densham rocketed back onto the elite charts this year, announcing her return straight from the start with a crushing win at the Mooloolaba World Cup in her native Australia. She immediately backed the win up with another mind boggling run to win her first ITU World Triathlon Series win in Sydney, quelling any doubts her win in Mooloolaba was a one-time performance.
But Densham didn’t stop there. She took her astounding speed to the U.S. where she laid out impressive bike and run splits for silver in San Diego. After leading off the swim in Sydney, smashing the run in Mooloolaba, and breaking away with a small bike group in San Diego, Densham not only put herself at the top of the Olympic selection, but also gave reason to be feared in all three disciplines.
The Aussie brushed up her sprinting skills when she collected a fast and furious silver at the Banyoles World Cup sprint. The experience was just what she needed to pull off yet another WTS win when she headed to Hamburg. Though Densham worked with half the distance of an Olympic race, she came back from a 30-second deficit on the swim to take the race with a blistering sub-16 minute 5km run. While Densham failed to finish the London course in 2011, there was no problem for her this year. After labouring to catch up to the leaders, Densham went to work laying out a nearly impossible pace on the run.
A tight race, Densham owned a slight advantage until Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Lisa Norden (SWE) out sprinted her to the finish. Densham wrote her name in the history books when she collected bronze on her first Olympic podium.
The two-time Olympian continued her season after the Games in pursuit of a world title, moving to the front of the WTS leaderboard with a fifth-place finish in Stockholm. Densham was poised to battle with Norden for the world title in Auckland, but a bout of illness prevented her from finishing the race.
Though she fell short of the world title, her season was a wild success with Olympic bronze and four WTS podium finishes, which included two wins. At just 26 years of age, something tells us we haven’t seen the last of this impressive athlete.