Aug. 4, 2012
• Results | Triathlon Replay
MADISON, Wis. -- A flat tire let the air out of Gwen Jorgensen’s Olympic debut Saturday.
The equipment issues on her bike relegated the University of Wisconsin alumna to a 38th-place finish in the triathlon at the Olympic Games in London, where she finished in 2 hours, 6 minutes and 34 seconds.
She finished third among the United States’ contingent, which was led by Sarah Groff’s fourth-place finish in exactly 2 hours. Jorgensen trailed gold medalist Nicola Spirig of Switzerland, who covered the course in 1:59.48, by 6:46.
Spirig won in a photo finish over silver medalist Lisa Norden of Sweden, while Australia’s Erin Densham took the bronze just two seconds behind in 1:59.50.
"I had a flat, so I had to stop and change it," Jorgensen told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I wasn’t in the front pack, anyway. I got a little flustered. It never happened to me before. You’ve got to be prepared for everything."
Jorgensen was in 28th place after the first transition -- from the 1500-meter swim to the 43-kilometer bike leg -- just over a minute behind the leader. She completed the swim in 19:27.
She climbed to 24th two laps into the bike stage -- which consisted of seven laps of a course just over 6 kilometers long -- when trouble hit.
The time it took Jorgensen to change the flat dropped her to 41st place by the time she came around to complete Lap 3. She went from trailing the leader by 35 seconds to facing a gap of 1:47.
Though she closed the time deficit over the final four laps, Jorgensen fell to 50th place by the time she transitioned to the 10-kilometer run.
Jorgensen finished well – she was 10th-fastest for the run with a split of 34:44 – but the strong runner could only do so much to recover from her bad luck on the bike.
“You don’t get to come to the Olympics every year," she said. "It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I just wanted to finish and know that I gave it my all. I just wanted to put it all out there."
Jorgensen was let down by the discipline she has most recently picked up. She honed both her swimming and running skills during her time as a Badger, earning All-America honors in both cross country and track and field.
The cycling portion of the triathlon is still a work in progress for Jorgensen, who was encouraged to take a crack at the triathlon after graduating from UW. She quickly ascended to the elite level and is rising star on the international stage.
The flat ensured that Jorgensen wouldn’t replicate the runner-up finish she scored on the same Hyde Park course almost exactly one year ago. That performance, the best ever by a U.S. woman in an ITU World Championship Series event, secured Jorgensen’s Olympics berth.