Born in Sydney’s Camden, Erin Densham competed in state level swimming and cross country before combining her skills in triathlons at the age of 16. Densham won the U23 World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2006. Competing at her first Olympic Games, Densham placed 22nd in Beijing in 2008.
In 2009, Densham collapsed and was pulled from the water at a triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa. She was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia (racing heartbeat) and had major heart surgery, with doctors doubting she could compete again.
Making a remarkable recovery, Densham returned to competition in 2010. In 2011 and 2012 Densham’s extraordinary results put her on a path to the unthinkable- a London Olympic berth. Densham sealed her fate when she won the 2012 Sydney World Championship race in emphatic fashion and finished second at the next World Championship race in San Diego.
On Olympic race day in London’s iconic Hyde Park, Densham put herself in a good position after the swim leg, leaving the first transition in 18th position. She joined the front pack of 22 on the second lap of the bike leg which remained intact through to the final transition into the run leg. Densham pushed the pace to start the run and at the end of the first of four laps led a group of eight. She remained strong as the lead pack was reduced to five with one 2.5km lap to race. Another surge by Densham eventually saw it come down to a race in three, but having done most of the work at the front she could not match it in the concluding stages with Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig who beat home Swede Lisa Norden in one of the closest finishes in Olympic. Densham came in two seconds later to win the bronze medal and keep Australia’s record of winning a medal at every Olympics intact. Densham had produced a courageous run in one of the toughest triathlons ever seen.