THE COUNTDOWN to Rio 2016 starts now for Cirencester triathlete Jenny Manners.

Jenny, 23, leads a double life as a triathlete, competing at an elite level in her own right and as a guide for visually-impaired athletes in international events.

In the latter guise she has enjoyed phenomenal success as the partner of Charlotte Ellis, winning the world para-tri title in Beijing (2011) as well as back-to-back golds in the European Championships at Pontevedra (2011) and Eliat (2012).

But Charlotte has now decided to take a break from the sport leaving Jenny without a partner – until Alison Patrick emerged from a recent talent-spotting weekend held at Loughborough University by British Triathlon.

In only their second international competition together, Alison and Jenny took the silver medal in the PruHealth World Para-Triathlon event in London’s Hyde Park on a special day for the sport which included the unusual sight of Britain’s celebrated Brownlee brothers failing to make the podium in the elite men’s event.

Jenny is now hopeful that her new partner could do at least as well as her previous one.

“Alison is doing very well,” said Jenny. “Although she comes from a running background, she is totally new to the triathlon.

“It’s looking very promising for the new partnership. Alison is a stronger swimmer than Charlotte which gives us a good foundation and she is improving on the bike too.

“She is aiming to peak at the World Championships in Edmonton, Canada at the end of August.

“Looking further ahead we can start accruing points for the Rio 2016 Olympic qualification from next year.”

Jenny, who completes her Masters Degree exams next week, ended her own personal career as a Loughborough University triathlete by helping the team win the British Universities and Colleges Sports (BUCS) Sprint Triathlon Championships in Calne.

After being disappointed with her own individual performance in the heat and humidity of Brasilia – where she nonetheless helped Team GB to a silver medal at the World University Triathlon Championships – Manners was more like her old self both in Wiltshire and in London last Saturday.

“It was great to finish off at Loughborough by getting the female team gold,” said Jenny. “It was the end of an era.

“But I plan to stay on in Loughborough after September and continue to train although I will have to get a part-time job.”

If she were not busy enough preparing for her finals, Jenny goes in search of more trophies by tackling the Blenheim Triathlon this weekend and the Windsor Triathlon seven days later.