Two-time ITU World Champion to pursue professional marathon racing
USAT Release:— U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen today announced her plans to officially transition from professional triathlon and pursue a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in the marathon. Jorgensen, who last year in Rio de Janeiro earned the United States’ first-ever Olympic gold medal in the sport of triathlon, makes the announcement after not competing in the 2017 season to give birth to her first child in August.
“Gwen will be forever remembered crossing the finish line in Rio to claim the gold medal at the 2016 Olympics, a true watershed moment in the history of USA Triathlon,” said Barry Siff, President of the USA Triathlon Board of Directors. “But she has also personified the ultimate role model for all athletes by continually giving back to the sport through efforts like the Gwen Jorgensen Scholarship. On behalf of every triathlete in the U.S., I wish Gwen —as well as her husband Patrick, and their new son Stanley — great joy, success and happiness in every possible way.”
“USA Triathlon brought me into this sport, and now I’m incredibly privileged to step away at the top, with an Olympic gold medal. Though my near-future training will be focused on winning gold in the marathon in Tokyo, I will always be a part of the USA Triathlon family and look forward to embracing every opportunity to help grow the sport of triathlon. In fact, I hope this new adventure in running will play a big part in doing exactly that,” Jorgensen said.“Gwen has left an indelible mark on triathlon in this country and lifted the sport’s profile to unprecedented heights through her remarkable career over the past eight years,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “As a highly accomplished athlete who is yet so balanced in other areas of her life, Gwen has always served as a tremendous ambassador for USA Triathlon and will be sorely missed. We fully support her decision to pursue new dreams as a full-time marathon runner, and wish Gwen and her family nothing but continued success in this exciting new chapter.”A standout runner and swimmer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Jorgensen was recruited into the sport in 2010 by USA Triathlon through its newly developed Collegiate Recruitment Program (CRP). That year she balanced work as a Certified Public Accountant at EY (formerly Ernst & Young) with training during her first season as an elite triathlete. She was named the 2010 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year after a standout season in which she earned three podium finishes as a pro.
Jorgensen made the choice to pursue triathlon full-time in 2011, and claimed three ITU World Cup podiums. She qualified for her first U.S. Olympic Team in 2012 and was one of the United States’ top medal contenders in London, but suffered a flat tire on the bike and finished 38th overall.
Her 2013 season included a USA Triathlon Elite National Championship title, three ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) victories and a bronze medal at the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships.
Jorgensen went on to post a record-breaking 2014 season in which she became the first woman in ITU World Triathlon Series history to win eight career WTS events and five in one season. She claimed victory at the 2014 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and earned the overall world championship title, becoming the first U.S. triathlete — male or female — to win a world title since 2004. Jorgensen’s 2014 season also included a win at the inaugural Island House Triathlon, a two-day stage race in the Bahamas.
In 2015, Jorgensen went undefeated in seven WTS starts and extended her win streak to 12. She became the first U.S. athlete to win back-to-back ITU World Championships, and punched her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games with a victory at the Rio de Janeiro ITU Qualification Event. She capped her historic season with a successful defense of her title at the Island House Triathlon.
Though her win streak was broken with a silver-medal finish at ITU World Triathlon Gold Coast in April 2016, Jorgensen earned two more WTS gold medals and a bronze as she built toward the Rio 2016 Olympic Games that August. She also helped the United States capture its first-ever ITU Mixed Relay World Championship title in June 2016 alongside teammates Ben Kanute, Kirsten Kasper and Joe Maloy.
As the heavy favorite in Rio, Jorgensen outran defending Olympic champion Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and claimed the gold medal, becoming USA Triathlon’s first-ever Olympic champion. She covered the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run in 1 hour, 56 minutes, 16 seconds, crossing the line 40 seconds ahead of Spirig. Jorgensen went on to place second at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final that September and take silver in the overall 2016 WTS rankings.
“It has been both a pleasure and an honor to work with Gwen over the years and to see her evolve from a newcomer in the sport to dominating the world’s best fields in Olympic-distance triathlon,” said Andy Schmitz, USA Triathlon High Performance General Manager. “Her accomplishments have permanently raised the bar within our U.S. National Team Program — for both women and men. And I have no doubt that her strong commitment to excellence will translate to a tremendous career in marathon racing.”
Shortly after the 2016 Olympic Games, Jorgensen announced her plans to run the New York City Marathon on Nov. 6, as well as her intention to start a family with husband Patrick Lemieux. Racing in her first-ever marathon, Jorgensen placed 14th in the elite women’s field with a time of 2:41:01.
She announced her pregnancy in January of 2017, and welcomed baby boy Stanley Allen Lemieux on Aug. 16.
Known for her strong run, it was a common sight for Jorgensen to make up significant deficits on competitors coming off the bike. In June of 2016, she overcame the largest deficit in ITU World Triathlon Series history in Leeds, England. Trailing Bermuda’s Flora Duffy by 1 minute, 40 seconds at the start of the run, she ran a 33:29 10k and won the race with a 51-second margin over Duffy.
Jorgensen leaves a legacy in the sport through the Gwen Jorgensen Scholarship, which she launched in 2014 to assist junior draft-legal triathletes and paratriathletes in their pursuit of excellence in the sport. More than $90,000 has been awarded to date in conjunction with the USA Triathlon Foundation, which contributes a matching grant. The recipients of the 2017 scholarship will be announced on Nov. 10. Gwen has also directly supported female development athletes by volunteering as a mentor coach at the USA Triathlon Junior Select Camp in Colorado Springs.