By Andrew Mishler | BSU at the Games
After enduring miles of swimming, biking and running, U.S. triathlete Sarah Groff pushed her body as far as it could.
It was enough to secure one of the highest finishes in Saturday’s Olympic women’s triathlon. But it also secured the most bittersweet finish of the race.
Groff came in fourth with a time of 2:00:00, finishing behind eventual bronze medalist Lisa Norden of Australia by 10 seconds in the final standings.
“My goal going into this race was just to be there with 1,000 meters to go. I was,” Groff said in a news release. “You know, I’ve got to be proud of that. Fourth is the ‘worst’ position to be in but, at the end of the day, I’m an Olympian. I get to showcase this awesome sport to millions of people. I’m really proud to be on this team. Obviously it would have been better to come home with a medal, but I’m proud of the process and proud of our team.”
Groff’s fourth-place finish tied for the second highest U.S. women’s mark in Olympic triathlon history. The highest place for U.S. competitors came in 2004 when Susan Williams took home the bronze medal.
The gold medal winner wasn’t decided as the tape broke, as both Switzerland’s Nicola Spiring and Sweden’s Lisa Norden finished with a time of 1:59:48.
Several agonizing minutes went by as the judges deliberated on whose torso broke the plane first. When the announcement came, Spiring was declared the gold medal winner.
Groff’s U.S. teammates finished with mixed results. Laura Bennett came in 17th with a time of 2:02:17, while Gwen Jorgensen finished 38th with a time of 2:06:34.
Jorgensen’s low finish was partly due to a flat tire on her bike during the third lap of the cycling.
“I had a flat, so I had to stop and change it,” Jorgensen said. “I wasn’t in the front pack, anyway. I got a little flustered. It never happened to me before. You’ve got to be prepared for everything.”
Bennett stayed with the front of the pack throughout most of the swimming and cycling portions, but couldn’t keep up with the leaders during the 10-kilometer run.
“The girls I was with, I’ve never really ridden with. It was definitely unexpected,” Bennett said. “I didn’t feel fantastic all day. You try and keep in touch with it all and figure out what you have, and that was all I had today.”
With the women’s competition over, the focus now switches to the men’s triathlon on Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Hyde Park. Hunter Kemper and Manuel Huerta will represent the U.S. in the race. Kemper has competed in every Olympic triathlon since the inaugural race in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Like so many inside Hyde Park on Saturday, Kemper not only played the role of a fan of his home country, but also of triathlon as a sport, taking to Twitter to express it after the race.
“WOW!!! That was the greatest finish I have ever seen!” Kemper tweeted. “UNBELIEVABLE!!! #triathlon has arrived on a world stage! BRILLIANT!”
Andrew Mishler is a senior telecommunications and journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Andrew and the BSU team at @andrewmishler, @bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.