This Saturday, Hyde Park will play host to one of the fastest growing Olympic sports, the women’s triathlon. The ultimate race of endurance and skill starts with a 1500 meter swim, a 43km bike and ends with a 10km run. This year’s race is the most competitive since its debut in the 2000 Olympics, and many of the 55 competitors have a legitimate shot at medaling. Here are some of the favorites to look out for.

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Helen Jenkins (Great Britain): The current ITU World champion, and if you had to pick one favorite in this incredibly competitive field, then this is the woman. She won the test event last year in London, but she’ll need to ignore history because the winner has never won Olympic gold. The 28-year-old has won 14 medals in different triathlon competitions. She is Great Britain’s hope for their first ever Olympic medal in the triathlon.

Andrea Hewitt (New Zealand): She started out as a competitive swimmer, but switched to the triathlon in 2005 where she won bronze in her first event. In 2011, she won three straight races and ended up placing second overall in the World Championship series ranking. She is a top-notch swimmer and one of the reasons this triathlon is set to have one of the fastest paced swims.

Nicola Spirig (Switzerland): A talented multi-sport athlete who was successful in cross country, snowboarding and basketball. She started to focus on the triathlon in 1998, and since has competed in 72 ITU competitions where she has achieved a top 10 position 39 times. She is a strong swimmer, which should allow her to be near the top of the pack at the very start of the race.

Erin Densham (Australia): She was one of the sport’s fastest rising stars, gaining accolades like the 2006 Under 23 World Champions and the elite Oceania Champion of the year in 2007. Then she needed serious cardiac surgery in 2009. She made an amazing comeback in 2010, and over her career has won 8 gold medals in various triathlons. She is coming into the race after a major ITU World series win in Hamburg.

Gwen Jorgenson (USA): She only started racing two years ago, and is already ranked third in the world. She clocked in the fastest run time at the London 2011 test event. She returns to London with a 2012 World Cup victory in Tiszaejvaros. The key to catching Hewitt will be for Jorgenson to stay close to the pack in swimming and cycling, and allow her running speed to finish the race strong.

Paula Findlay (Canada): The 22-year-old is the dark horse of this competition because she has been out with a hip injury for the last year. In 2011, she had won the first three ITU World Championship series events and was ranked first in the world. She is a phenomenal runner who will be a real medal threat if she is near the top by the run.

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Chris Spicer
Contributing Writer

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV