London Olympians Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True became the first U.S. triathletes to make the 2016 Olympic team with first- and fourth-place finishes at the ITU World Olympic Qualification Event in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
The former Ernst & Young accountant Jorgensen is one of the most dominant athletes in the world. She extended her winning streak to 12 top-level international triathlons dating to her lost loss on April 26, 2014. Her 11 straight wins on the International Triathlon Union World Series circuit are a record for women or men.
In Rio, Jorgensen and True will look to become the second and third Americans to win an Olympic triathlon medal, joining Susan Williams, who took bronze at Athens 2004. Triathlon debuted at the Sydney 2000 Games.
In 2012, Jorgensen finished a disappointing 38th at the Olympics after suffering a flat tire on the bike.
“This has been the first step in my goal of aspiring to win gold in Rio next year since the 2012 Olympics,” Jorgensen said, according to USA Triathlon. “I’m really excited and we now have two U.S. girls qualified, so I think that’s key. Sarah and I both have a year now to prepare for the race. This whole season, this has been the focus race.”
True finished fourth in the London Olympic triathlon as Sarah Groff, married U.S. distance runner Ben True last year and was (a distant) second to Jorgensen in last season’s World Series standings.
On Sunday, Jorgensen was 14 seconds behind after the 1500m swim and one second back after the 40km bike. Her strength is the run, and she proved it again by distancing the field over 10km to win by 19 seconds over Great Britain’s Non Stanford.
One more U.S. female triathlete can qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team next year. The favorite will be Katie Zaferes, who would be a first-time Olympian in Rio. Zaferes ranks second in podium finishes in this year’s World Series with five behind Jorgensen’s six.
U.S. triathlon could qualify up to three men for the 2016 Olympics but have no Rio medal favorites at this point.
The World Triathlon Series continues in Stockholm from Aug. 22-23.
Jorgensen and True are the sixth and seventh athletes to qualify for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team across all sports, joining modern pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher, table tennis player Jennifer Wu and open-water swimmers Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson.