She came 26th in the London 2012 Olympics, 3rd in Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 but now, Vicky Holland has surprised herself to take her first ever gold at the Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town.
Her best results before Cape Town was 4th in 2013.
Helen Jenkins and Emma Pallant finished in the top ten to make it a successful day for British triathletes.
The cold water in Cape Town had an immediate influence on the race by halving the swim distance from 1500m to 750m. Even with the shorter swim, the leaders, including Helen Jenkins, had a 45 second lead over many of the key contenders.
However, a break away on the bike was reeled in from behind and a sizeable group stayed together into the second transition. At the start of the run it seemed impossible to predict who might win, but encouragingly for Great Britain, Holland, Jenkins and Emma Pallant were all in contention.
As the 10km run progressed athletes slowly dropped away from the group and Vicky Holland took up a front running position with 2km to go. She edged away from Spirig and Zaferes to complete a victory lap around the Cape Town Stadium and cross the finishing line in first place.
Having never won a Series medal, Holland was shocked with victory. She said: “I felt good in training and I thought a podium was a potential outcome for today if I executed everything perfectly. I didn’t think I could win it.”
She added: “I didn’t feel like I swam well, my goggles filled up right at the beginning and I went way off course on the swim so coming together on the bike was a bit of a relief and I thought ‘well, we’ll just see what I’ve got on the run’. I’m absolutely thrilled to come home first.”
Alistair Brownlee is set to race in Cape Town tomorrow, marking his return from an ankle injury and his fist ITU World Triathlon Series race of the year. Younger brother, Jonathan, is the current Series leader but has opted to sit out of this and the next round in Yokohama.
Highlights of the women’s race are available on BBC2 at 1pm tomorrow followed by live Red Button coverage of the men’s race at 2pm.