Olympic Picks From Former ITU Athletes

We polled non-drafting stars like Mirinda Carfrae, Julie Dibens and Matt Reed to see their picks of the podiums for the Olympic triathlons.

Photo: Paul Phillips

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

We polled stars of the non-drafting triathlon world, all of whom got their start in ITU racing, to see their picks of the podiums for the Olympic triathlons. We also included a few photos of these athletes from their ITU-racing days.

The women’s race will take place tomorrow, Aug. 4, and the men’s race will take place Tuesday, Aug. 7. See the television schedule here.

For more from London, visit Triathlete.com/Olympics.

Julie Dibens (GBR)

2009 Xterra and 70.3 world champion

Gold: Helen Jenkins because she’s British, a top-class fighter with a heart of gold and is gonna come up with the goods on the day.

Silver: Erin Densham will fall just short and pick up silver. It’s been a tough selection process and despite showing great form, that extra energy she has expended to get to the start line will stop her from getting gold. Still got plenty of run speed to grab silver though.

Bronze: Laura Bennett has had a great consistent block of training leading in, will handle the Olympic pressure better than most and has some Bennett fourth-place demons to put to bed.


Gold: Ali Brownlee. His performance at the last WCS was so dominant, and with the added help of super domestique Stu Hayes who will control the race, just can’t see Ali losing.

Silver: A dark horse. Not sure who—possibly Hunter Kemper or Bevan Docherty. History has shown that someone unexpected always comes up with the goods on the Olympic stage.

Bronze: Jonny Brownlee. I just sense that someone is going to step in and ruin the Brownlee dream of a one-two punch. Still a phenomenal performance.

RELATED: Julie Dibens’ Top Tips For Biking In The Wind

Lesley Paterson (SCO)

Reigning Xterra world champion


Gold: Helen Jenkins—she’s gone from strength to strength this last year and proved it in San Diego in May. Her preparation is impeccable, and I think she’ll cope with the pressure.

Silver: Paula Findlay—I reckon both she and Helen will pull away in the 10K run but because Paula hasn’t raced, Helen will have that little extra in the tank. She’s got oodles of talent to you can’t not consider her.

Bronze: Nicola Spirig—fierce and always there. She will out-sprint a small group to get that last podium medal!


Gold: I hate to say it but it’s gotta be Alistair [Brownlee]. He’s made of different stuff both physically and mentally, so there’s no doubt (barring a crash) that he’ll do it.

Silver: Jonny [Brownlee] will be spurred on by his brother and just hang the pace longer than anyone else and thus come in for silver.

Bronze: Richard Murray—he’s just been getting faster and faster throughout this season, and for sure he has the hunger to really dig deep for this.

RELATED: Sh*t Triathletes DON’T Say

Ben Collins (USA)

2011 Nautica NYC Triathlon winner


The men’s side is easy. I’m going with the favorites: the Brownlees. Alistair for gold, and Jonathan for silver. Ali is on a whole level of his own, and Jonathan isn’t far off. With a home crowd I don’t think anyone stands a chance. The battle for bronze is a bit tighter, but I think after disappointment in Beijing that [Javier] Gomez will be ready to take home some hardware. He’s the most talented person besides the Brownlees, and he has the experience to know how to get it done. Obviously the Russians are a wildcard. Those guys seem to come up with inhuman strength from time-to-time and they could upset things. Still, my money is on Gomez for first mortal (non-Brownlee).


The women’s side is harder to predict. Obviously [Erin] Densham and [Andrea] Hewitt have been racing insanely well this year, but so has Jenkins, who has the home crowd advantage. If it’s a hard race without any lollygagging on the bike, then I give it to [Helen] Jenkins for gold, then Densham silver and Hewitt third. If tactics come into play then we could see [Sarah] Groff in a bronze position from a breakaway, but I think more likely is that everything will come together and we’ll have a runner’s race. Look out for [Paula] Findlay first of all. She has gold potential if she’s healthy, but I doubt she is. [Gwen] Jorgensen will have a hard time getting into the lead pack without spending her legs on the bike, so I put her in bronze if it all comes together in a slow pack. [Emma] Jackson and [Barbara Riveros] Diaz are capable of medals if things play out well for them (slow bike), but again, my prediction is that it will be a quick bike, and even if it comes together the runners will have to work too hard on the bike and won’t be capable of outrunning Jenkins, Densham and Hewitt.

RELATED – Triathlete Directory: Ben Collins

Mary Beth Ellis (USA)

2011 Ironman Texas winner


Gold: Nicola Spirig—I have been training with Nicola and she is ready.

Silver: Helen Jenkins—Helen has had best last 18 months consistently winning or finishing on podium.

Bronze: Laura Bennett is my sentimental pick as she is an amazing athlete who has been consistently among the top female ITU athletes in the past eight years. She was fourth in Beijing and has unfinished business. And I would love to see U.S. get some more triathlon medals!


Gold & Silver: Brownlee brothers—It is hard to bet against a Brownlee sweep of first two places.

Bronze: Hunter Kemper. Bronze is up for grabs as there are many top men who could snatch it. So I went with another sentimental pick as Hunter Kemper is another amazing U.S. athlete who has had one injury or accident after another but somehow preserved through it all. I hope he gets a medal but regardless has had an amazing career that has included four Olympics.

RELATED – Dispatch: They Sure Do!

Dirk Bockel (LUX)

2012 Ironman Regensburg winner


Gold: Brownlee old

Silver: Brownlee young

Bronze: Richard Murray


Gold: Helen Jenkins

Silver: Erin Densham

Bronze: Nicola Spirig

RELATED: Transition Talk With Dirk Bockel

Cameron Dye (USA)

2012 Philadelphia Triathlon winner


Gold: Alistair Brownlee—he’s as complete a triathlete as we have ever seen, and he is racing at home. He beats his brother simply based on experience.

Silver: Jonny Brownlee—also a complete triathlete and will have his day just not at home in London.

Bronze: Richard Murray—peaking at the right time and has the kick to get away from Gomez at the end.


Gold: Helen Jenkins—best swimmer, biker, runner in the field, and the difference will be racing at home.

Silver: Erin Densham—has been crushing races in 2012 and will continue her streak on podiums.

Bronze: Lisa Norden—always in the race and will ride and run her way on to the podium.

PHOTOS: Cameron Dye In The Wind Tunnel

Mirinda Carfrae (AUS)

2010 Ironman world champion


Gold: Helen Jenkins—has been almost unstoppable over the past year!

Silver: Laura Bennett—she is ready to rumble.

Bronze: Nicola Spirig—one of the toughest competitors out there and coached by Sutto [nickname for Brett Sutton].


Gold/Silver: Ali and Jonny Brownlee—can’t bet against these guys with the résumé they have.

Bronze: Javier Gomez—I think he is the only one who could challenge the Brownlee boys.

RELATED: “My After” With Mirinda Carfrae

Kelly Williamson (USA)

2012 Ironman 70.3 Texas winner


Gold: Erin Densham—She has been on the upswing and she’s got a great run. I think others may overlook her a bit, but I think her recent racing may give her the quiet confidence to surprise people and be in contention for the win.

Silver: Helen Jenkins—Always seems to be up there whenever she races; she seems extremely consistent and appears to know how to deal with the “big” races. Also a great runner and has the experience to back it all up.

Bronze: Laura Bennett—OK, Laura may be a little bit of a biased personal pick for me! Really like this girl. But she is so solid in all disciplines, and she seems to always work her way into the top three when it really matters (Hy-Vee, Olympic selection races, etc.). I think she knows so well how to approach high-pressure events, and you can never count her out.


Gold: Brownlee. I’m not sure which one, but these guys are unstoppable and I think the chances of at least one being in the top three are great barring any unexpected happenings. They’re young, strong and not afraid to race anyone! Just flat-out proven winners time and time again.

Silver: Javier Gomez—I have to pick my fellow Zoot athlete! But outside of that, Javier has the two things I mentioned up above, experience and the incredible run to finish out his race. Always a solid athlete.

Bronze: Hunter Kemper—I guess I like the chances for the “old guard” by picking him and Laura, but I do think they both know what to expect, and he has the incredible run to solidify his result. It was awesome to see him step up in San Diego and when he is healthy, he’s always a threat.

RELATED – My Favorite Things: Kelly Williamson

Sara McLarty (USA)

2010 Race to the Toyota Cup winner


Gold: Gwen Jorgensen. I think the Olympic race is going to come down to a run…and Gwen is the best! With only 55 women on the starting line, there isn’t the depth of swim/bikers that can make a breakaway possible. Also, with so much on the line at the Olympics, no one takes risk and chances that they would in regular season racing. As long as Gwen has her legs when she gets off the bike, I think we will see her move to the front in the last 5K.

Silver: Kathy Trembly

Bronze: Helen Jenkins


Gold: Javier Gomez. I see Gomez taking the win in London because of the pressure that has been put on the Brownlee brothers for a Gold on home soil. Whether its one big pack, or a smaller pack off the front, those three guys will be a part of it and no one can match their run speed when they are at peak form.

Silver & Bronze: Brownlees

RELATED: Open-Water Swim Tips From Sara McLarty

Matt Reed (USA)

2008 Olympian


Gold: Alistair Brownlee

Silver: Javier Gomez

Bronze: Jonny Brownlee

Gomez was the man to beat for three years. The race that he got beat at was the Games in Beijing. He knows the feeling of going home empty-handed and will do what it takes to leave London with a medal. All three of these athletes have the full package.


Gold: Helen Jenkins

Silver: Erin Densham

Bronze: Totally up in the air.

Paula Findlay is in there if she is not injured.

RELATED: Matty Reed Talks Boise

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.