Just when you think you're tough enough


Gwen Jorgensen wins first American gold medal in Triathlon at Rio Olympics

Gwen Jorgensen Olympic Gold in Triathlon
Gwen Jorgensen won the first Olympic Gold medal in Triathlon for USA in Rio. (Twitter)

Most Triathlons are won on the run, and it was no different for the women at the 2106 Rio Olympics. American favourite Gwen Jorgensen earned American’s first gold medal in Triathlon when she sprinted past rival Swiss Nicola Spirig to the finish line with a margin of 40 seconds, in 1:56:16. Britain’s Vicky Holland come in third to complete the podium.

The race was close right from the 1.5km swim start as Jorgensen followed close in contention, and kept a close rein on the lead pack in the 40km cycle as well.

As the race approached the 40 minute mark, Jorgensen briefly took the lead but Spirig – the London 2012 gold medalist – then passed her, with Jorgensen steady in second. Despite the tough climbs and curvy roads, the athletes kept in a consistent formation.

Fellow American teammate, Sarah True had to withdraw on the bike leg as she was lying on the road, and she rubbed a clearly injured leg. She managed to get back on her bike for a short period, but had to stop again to address her pain – a quadriceps injury sustained during the swim segment and eventually withdrew from the race.

True just missed out on a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, finishing in fourth. Her placement was the highest for an American in either the men’s or women’s competitions at those Games. But this would not be the race where she could redeem herself.

What's in Gwen Jorgensen's winning bag? (Twitter)
What’s in Gwen Jorgensen’s winning bag? (Twitter)

Coming in and out of the blue carpet in the second transition into the run, Jorgensen knew, this is where she could take over the race as she has the fastest run split in women’s triathlon history.

On the second lap of the 10km run, Spirig was just ahead of Jorgensen at the start of the second lap but slowed down in attempt to force Jorgensen to exert more energy; Jorgensen reacted by slowing down too and almost insisted Spirig stay in front.

“There was a windy side of the course, so no one wanted to lead and I said we should share the work. She said no, I was leading before—you go,” Spirig explains.

“We were saying ‘you take a turn,’ ‘no you take a turn’ and she said, ‘I already have a medal’—you go,” Jorgensen says. She adds, jokingly, “but now she has two and I only have one!”

Gwen Jorgensen were battling mind games with Nicola Spirig on the run towards gold. (
Gwen Jorgensen were battling mind games with Nicola Spirig on the run towards gold. (

Spirig admits she was pulling every trick out of the hat she could to break Jorgensen.

“It was just some mental games—I knew she was a strong runner so I had to try everything to get her out of the rhythm a bit,” said Spirig.

Into the final lap, the magic moment happened when Jorgensen blasted past Spirig by a wide margin. Moments later, the two were separated by close to 10 seconds. Jorgensen broke free and was unstoppable towards the finish line.

Secret to Gwen Jorgensen’s winning gold?

Every day in season, Gwen Jorgensen likes to write down three things she did well and three things she could improve upon concerning her chosen sport.

Watch Gwen Jorgensen hone her skills on the blue carpet in this video.

Read more at NBC Olympics and Triathlon Competitor.