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‘Fire is still there’ for Gwen Jorgensen despite her ‘worst swim ever’

Having taken on board lessons learned at WTCS Cagliari, former Olympic champion vows to continue on the comeback trail

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Gwen Jorgensen says the “fire is still burning” and has vowed to fight on in her triathlon comeback.

The gold medallist from the 2016 Rio Olympics and two-time World Champion has returned to the sport following a six-year break when she had two children and switched to running professionally.

Making the Mixed Relay line-up in a stacked American team is the ambitious aim and there was encouragement from her first three races, albeit at a lower level than she was used to competing at.

But in order to move up in the rankings she had to get places in the bigger events and to that end she flew to Japan in early May in the hope of a spot opening up at WTCS Yokohama.

That didn’t happen but her persistence was rewarded when she made it onto the startlist at WTCS Cagliari last weekend.

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‘I would not quit after a race like that’

Unfortunately things did not go to plan there – she was last out of the water and then lapped out on the bike.

She asked her followers on Instagram for some questions and fronts up to them in her latest YouTube update, embedded below.

And it’s no surprise that after such a setback there were those wondering if she’d carry on with her comeback bid, prompting a robust response: “The fire is still burning. I would not quit after a race like that. I think it’s a very important lesson… it’d be easy to just say, I’m done, it was horrible. You always say success leaves clues. Well, so does failure.

“That is not my best physically. It’s very apparent. That is just not where I’m at. I think I need to continue until I have a race that I know is my potential. And so, yes, the fire is still there.”

Race recap

And there were no excuses from her as she ran through what happened: “Even if I had the worst start ever, you can look at Alex Yee and he fell [on the sand at the start] – he was dead last, and he still came back from that. 

“I had a bad start. I could have had an even worse start, and I should have still not been dead last coming out of the water. That’s not my fitness level physically. So, yes, that probably played, I don’t know, maybe 1% part of the race, but it was basically I had a big mental mishap that day and messed up, and that’s what we got.”

Asked by her husband Pat Lemieux whether there was anything at all she enjoyed about the Cagliari experience as a whole, she revealed that even away from the race things very much went awry:

“No! I really tried to enjoy it [but] I think the first day there, I got stuck in this really bad thunderstorm, floods, and then our family got sick, George got sick, you got sick, Stanley got sick. My mom got sick. I got bit by a dog. It just felt like every day there was something that was kind of, like, happening.

“I remember there were points throughout days where I was like, oh, this is really beautiful. I’m a water person and so the ocean was so gorgeous. But for some reason, I just don’t know, maybe I’m tainted from the race, but I feel like I did not enjoy my time there.”

Looking forward to Huatulco

Jorgensen has since spent time processing the trip and has already taken steps to address any issues which might have played a part, revealing: “I’ve had a lot of tough, challenging conversations with my psychologist since then, and I’ve just been working on what went wrong and how can we hopefully make some adjustments so that doesn’t happen again.

“The biggest thing I think I learned from Cagliari is that I’ve been ignoring some issues, some mom guilt that I’ve had, especially since having George. I need to work on that. I need to make sure I, as a person, am doing well in order to get the best out of myself.”

And having dealt with the negatives she’s switched her focus to a brighter future, adding: “Before I even processed the race, I was like, I want to just start doing some World Cups. There’s all these things in my head of how I can make adjustments going forward. I’m excited to keep going and give it another shot.”

Next up is World Triathlon Cup Huatulco in Mexico on June 17th which she says “she’s super excited to go to”, adding: “I think the World Cup level is a good level for me to race at right now.”

Gwen Joorgensen third place in Taupo comeback in 2023 photo credit Simon Dawson Photography
[Photo credit: Simon Dawson Photography]
Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  

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