By Andrew Mishler | BSU at the Games
As 26-year old Gwen Jorgensen awakes tomorrow to compete in her first Olympic triathlon, the situation shouldn’t feel too unfamiliar to her. She’s been here before.
Once Jorgensen takes her mark to race for the gold medal, it will have been 363 days since she took second place in the World Championship Series Triathlon, also positioned in London. Her finish qualified her for the triathlon she is hours away from competing in.
Prior success in the same city hasn’t let the youngest United States triathlon athlete become overconfident about her chances in the Olympic Games. With 55 other world-class athletes around Jorgensen ready to swim, bike and run toward a first-place finish, she knows the stage and stakes aren’t the same as before.
“Every race is completely different,” Jorgensen said last week in a news release. “You have different people out there. I know that this race is going to be hard, and it’s going to go from the beginning, and I just have to be prepared to hurt a lot.”
Long before she qualified last year to compete in the Olympic event, Jorgensen was trained to one day be an Olympic athlete. She said her coach pushed her into thinking she would one day have a chance at competing at this level.
But even a year to digest the fact she was officially an Olympian wasn’t enough time for Jorgensen.
“When I got recruited into triathlon, they told me the Olympics were in the picture and that I could definitely do it,” she said. “My coach always believed in me. I don’t think I fully believed that 2012 was realistic. After I qualified, I was like, ‘What? Really?’ It didn’t really sink in. I think it actually sunk in once I got to the Olympic Village. I was like, ‘Wow. I’m really here.’”
Fellow U.S. competitors Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff join Jorgensen in the 51.5-kilometer race. The U.S. reached the quota of three possible competition athletes based on qualifying triathlons prior to the Olympic Games.
The event starts at 9 a.m. at Hyde Park. Each athlete swims 1,500 meters of Serpentine Lake, bikes 40 kilometers through the London streets and runs 10 kilometers around Hyde Park to the finish line.
“When it comes down to it, it’s just going to be about who is ready on August 4,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough race no matter what, and we’re all prepared for that.”
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.