Gwen Jorgensen gets Pontevedra shot at Olympic place after back-to-back wins

News Director

The momentum is building for Gwen Jorgensen after back-to-back wins which have seen her jump up the rankings and onto the start list for the WTCS Grand Final in Pontevedra.

The 2016 Olympic champion’s comeback to the sport after seven years out and starting a family has the target of making Paris 2024, especially in the Mixed Relay event which was added to the programme for the first time in Tokyo.

But the challenge of breaking back into a hugely competitive USA women’s line-up was illustrated earlier this year when she struggled to get race starts on account of virtually starting from scratch in rankings terms.

However she has showed great persistence – even flying to WTCS Yokohama in the hope of getting a roll down spot in that race, though it never materialised. And she also missed out on the Paris Test event.

Double delight for Jorgensen

But things have kicked up a gear in the last couple of weeks with her first wins since Rio, the first coming at the World Triathlon Cup Valencia and the second at Karlovy Vary on what has been a mini-European Tour.

Those wins saw her vault up 28 places in the world rankings to #52, and with that rise comes a place in Pontevedra next weekend alongside no fewer than six other American women – Taylor Spivey, Kirsten Kasper, Erika Ackerlund, Summer Rappaport, Katie Zaferes and Gina Sereno.

None of those have yet booked their Olympic spot (Taylor Knibb was the first American to do so with fifth place in Paris) and though the likes of Spivey will be much more strongly favoured in Spain, the fact remains that the one additional American woman can qualify for the team by finishing on the podium.

Reflecting on her two successes in her latest YouTube update, Jorgensen described how the events, though both Olympic distance, were radically different.

YouTube video

In Valencia she ran away from her rivals while in Karlovy Vary she just got the better of Rachel Klamer after a thrilling sprint finish, saying: “I was really excited when we kind of mapped out these two races because they were so different. I was really excited to test myself and be able to showcase what I can do on completely different courses.

“So, yeah, Valencia was flat. A runner’s race in everybody’s mind. And it did kind of all come together on that course.

“And then Karlovy Vary was a really cool swim, but technical. And then a hilly bike with cobbles, and then a hilly run as well.

“I was actually a little disappointed with my swim that I didn’t make that front group of four. I was in the next group and we came out of the water with, I would say, a significant deficit.

“So we just kind of rode firm / steady and we were able to catch that front pack so we came into the run as a group of 13.

“In the past, I used to think for races that I had to specifically train for that course. And these courses were so different, and we were not training specifically for either of them. And so I was really happy with how I was able to execute despite not preparing for exactly that course.”

Onwards and upwards for Gwen

And looking at her progress so far, an increase in training volume appears to be paying dividends.

She explained: “I think early season, I thought I was training a lot, but I’ve realised that I wasn’t, I guess, training a tonne back then. And so it’s been nice to be able to go home in Boulder when the Paris Test Event was on and use a big chunk of time when the weather was really nice in Boulder to get in some really solid training.

“But I think my favourite thing about this journey so far has been seeing people who I raced against seven years ago. And just having that community has been really special and really nice.

“And then, as well, I’ve made some new friends, which has been pretty incredible. A lot of these athletes are younger, but I’ve made some friends as well that I’m really thankful for.”

World Triathlon Cup Karlovy Vary 2023 Gwen Jorgensen finish
Jorgensen sprints to victory at Karlovy Vary [Photo Credit: Ben Lumley / World Triathlon]
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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