Steffen Justus, Erin Densham win

SYDNEY -- Steffen Justus of Germany came from 20 seconds behind halfway through the 10-kilometer run Saturday to win the opening World Championship Series triathlon of 2012, an Olympic qualifying event.

Justus, whose previous best finish on the series was a fifth last year on the same course to be used for this year's London Games, recorded an unofficial time of 1 hour, 51 minutes, 4 seconds. That was 9 seconds ahead of Richard Murray, who became the first South African to achieve a podium finish in the series.

Laurent Vidal of France was third, 11 seconds behind Justus.

"I was assured by my coach in training this week that I had the legs for a good run section, and I guess I showed it today," Justus said at the finish line of the course that began with a 1,500-meter swim from the Opera House in Sydney Harbour and 40-kilometer cycle and run legs through Hyde Park.

American Jarrod Shoemaker finished in 1:51.51 to place 10th.

Earlier, Erin Densham staked a strong claim for a spot on Australia's Olympic team with a win in the women's race, her second victory in three weeks on the international circuit.

Densham, who had surgery two years ago to correct an accelerated heart rate, finished in 2:01.29, 9 seconds ahead of world champion Helen Jenkins of Britain. Gwen Jorgensen of the United States was fourth in 2:02:12.

The second World Championship Series event is May 10-12 in San Diego, followed May 26-27 by the Madrid event. The cutoff date for Olympic selection is May 31.