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Road to Paris 2024: Olympic champ Gwen Jorgensen on WHY she returned to triathlon

Gwen Jorgensen reveals what's driving her ahead of key Olympic qualifying period.

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With the Paris 2024 Olympic Games looming large on the horizon, a number of triathlon’s top short-course athletes are entering the crucial final phase of qualifying, with the remaining slots for every nation set to be filled over the next six months.

Despite being a former Olympic Champion, American Gwen Jorgensen still has to qualify just like everyone else, something made harder by her six-year hiatus from the sport before returning at the beginning of last season.

I spoke to Gwen about her qualification prospects, the factors now driving her and why this time around is different. This is the first part of her story, with more to come, and you can watch the full interview at the bottom of this article.

“My purpose is about inspiring others”

Having already achieved the pinnacle in short-course triathlon, it seems natural to wonder what Gwen is hoping to get out of her return to the sport. For starters, the Boulder-based pro says she has a completely different purpose this time around.

Gwen Jorgensen Hamburg qualifiers 2023
[Photo credit: World Triathlon]

“When I retired in 2016, I felt like I had accomplished all my goals. This time around I’m going after the same thing, but it’s for completely different reasons and with a different purpose. I call this journey that I’m on my version 2.0.

“I’m not the same person I was in Rio. Back in 2015, 2016, it was all about winning gold. I didn’t really dive into the ‘why’. This time around, I’ve spent a lot of time on a mission statement. It’s all about my ‘why’ and my purpose.

“That’s what keeps me motivated. I think if I had done that back in 2016, I possibly could have continued through because it would have had meaning beyond just the end piece of metal.

“This time my purpose is about inspiring others, not only other mothers, but my family and showing them that we can do hard things. It’s showing them about being bold, being courageous and having integrity and character.”

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Trusting the process

For Jorgensen, it’s important that she doesn’t compare herself to the athlete or person she was in the build-up to Rio. Focusing on her ‘why’, she says, is what keeps her happy.

“A big portion of this whole journey is about being bold and just putting myself out there and knowing where I’m at right now and judging myself on where I’m at each day, not where I was seven years ago.

“And yes, I know it’s good and important to have outcome goals. But I am so much happier having a reason and purpose behind those goals.”

Mark Allen
Written by
Mark Allen
Mark Allen has to be in any conversation about the greatest triathlete of all time. A six-time IRONMAN World Champion, he won every other title that mattered in the sport and dominated like few others
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