Gwen Jorgensen repeats as triathlon World champion, extends streak

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Gwen Jorgensen completed a perfect season, repeated as World champion and won her 13th straight top-level international triathlon in the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in drizzly Chicago on Friday.

Jorgensen, heavily favored to become the first U.S. Olympic triathlon champion next year, prevailed by 29 seconds in 1:55:36 over Great Britain’s Non Stanford. Britain’s Vicky Holland was third. Full results here.

Jorgensen was in the lead group after the 1500m swim (five seconds behind) and the 40km bike (also five seconds behind) but did not crush the run as hard as normal.

Stanford and Holland stayed with her for the first 7.5 of 10km before Jorgensen made her move and pulled away by so much that she was able to rest her sunglasses on top of her head, look behind her and grab an American flag before crossing the finish line.

“They’re pretty tough,” Jorgensen said of the Brits shortly after winning. “I was really hurting today and had no idea what was going to happen. Non was leading a lot of the run, and I was just trying to stick with her.”

“Her kick was phenomenal,” Stanford said of Jorgensen.

Jorgensen entered seven World Triathlon Series events this season and won all of them. Her last top-level individual triathlon loss was April 26, 2014.

“I never would have thought that, to be able to perform on so many different days when I’m not feeling well or feeling well, or hilly courses, it just doesn’t seem real,” Jorgensen said.

The former Ernst & Young accountant notched her 15th career win in 31 World Triathlon Series starts, extending the longest men’s or women’s win streak in series history.

Pre-WTS, Australian Emma Carney and Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes were unbeaten across 12 straight International Triathlon Union World Cup races, but they lost separate World Championships races during those streaks.

Jorgensen and another London Olympian, Sarah True, became the first two of a maximum three women to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic triathlon team with first- and fourth-place finishes in an Olympic test event in Rio on Aug. 2.

A third woman, favored to be Katie Zaferes, will be determined in 2016.

True was seventh Friday and finished third in the overall standings this season behind Jorgensen and New Zealand’s Andrea Hewitt. Zaferes was 24th, though she’s finished runner-up in half of this season’s races and finished fifth in the season-long standings. Full standings here.

The 2016 World Triathlon Series begins in Abu Dhabi the first weekend in March.

In Rio, Jorgensen, True and perhaps Zaferes will look to join Susan Williams, who took bronze at Athens 2004, as U.S. Olympic triathlon medalists. Triathlon debuted at the Sydney 2000 Games.

In 2012, Jorgensen placed a disappointing 38th at the Olympics after suffering a flat tire on the bike and crossed the finish line thinking only about gold in Rio. True was fourth at the London Olympics as Sarah Groff, two years before marrying distance runner Ben True.

“We all know that [Jorgensen] is setting the level,” said Holland, who was closest to Jorgensen during the streak with a five-second loss in Hamburg on July 18. “She’s the target. She’ll know that. We’ve got a year now to work on that and really try and up our game and challenge her next year.”

The last defeat for some of the U.S.’ most dominant current and former female individual Olympic sports athletes:

Serena Williams (Tennis): Sept. 11, 2015
Adeline Gray (Wrestling): July 27, 2014 (25 straight wins)
Gwen Jorgensen (Triathlon): April 26, 2014 (13 straight wins)
Katie Ledecky (Swimming): Jan. 18, 2014 (31 straight wins)
Simone Biles (Gymnastics): March 30, 2013 (9 straight wins)
Claressa Shields (Boxing): May 13, 2012 (more than 30 straight wins)
Ronda Rousey (MMA/Judo): Aug. 13, 2008 (more than 15 straight wins)

Jorgensen’s streak includes only top-level individual international triathlon races. Ledecky’s includes only long-course meters 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle finals. Biles’ includes only all-around competitions. Rousey’s includes MMA fights and judo matches.

MORE TRIATHLON: Gwen Jorgensen’s bike helmet includes Paul Bunyan, Bucky Badger

Kobe Bryant embraced the Olympics, on and off the court

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Kobe Bryant developed a special relationship with Team USA, international basketball and the Olympic Games themselves.

Bryant was among those who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. Grief spread worldwide, showing the impact he had across international sport. Images of Bryant meeting Olympians from gymnastics, swimming, track and field, even Alpine skiing, some from him attending their competitions, dotted social media.

Bryant earned gold medals as a leader of the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball teams. He said before debuting at the Games that he valued a gold medal above an NBA championship.

In 2008, he helped spur the Redeem Team to gold in Beijing. He sat down with NBC Sports’ Cris Collinsworth for an interview, describing what it meant to him to receive the USA jersey for the first time.

“I had goosebumps, and I actually just looked at it for a while,” said Bryant, who put off surgery on a torn ligament in his right pinkie finger to play in 2008. “I just held it there, and I laid it across my bed. I just stared at it for a few minutes. Just because, as a kid growing up, this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.”

Bryant’s first Olympic game came in a special environment — in Beijing against China.

“When I look up in the crowd, and I see all the USA flags waving and people chanting USA, it gives you goosebumps,” he said. “When I heard the national anthem, I teared up a little bit, and I had to gather myself.”

Bryant stayed close to the Olympic Movement in retirement.

He attended the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials for women’s gymnastics, meeting the team members. He appeared at USA Swimming’s Golden Goggle Awards, helping raise money for the national governing body. He was the final voice in the Los Angeles Olympic bid presentation to the IOC two years ago.

Bryant’s last words in that video, before the IOC later awarded the 2024 Olympics to Paris and the 2028 Olympics to Los Angeles: “To have the Olympics here, and to have so many different cultures represented, would be a beautiful story to tell.”

WATCH LIVE: Nathan Chen in U.S. Figure Skating Championships free skate

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Nathan Chen tries to become the first man to win four straight U.S. figure skating titles since 1988, live on NBC Sports on Sunday.

NBC Sports Gold streams live coverage of the men’s free skate for subscribers starting at 2:30 p.m. ET in Greensboro, N.C. NBC joins with TV coverage at 3.

LIVE STREAM: Men’s Free Skate — Gold | NBC | Skate Order

Chen, a 20-year-old Yale sophomore, is undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics. He can become the seventh man since World War II to win four straight national titles.

Five of the previous six went on to earn Olympic gold, including Dick ButtonScott Hamilton and, most recently, Brian Boitano in 1988.

Chen carries a substantial 13.14-point lead from Saturday’s short program, where he landed two quadruple jumps on one week of full training following a flu bout.

The anticipated drama Sunday comes in the battle for silver and bronze medals and the last two world championships team spots.

Jason BrownAndrew TorgashevVincent Zhou and Tomoki Hiwatashi are separated by 8.78 points. Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, and Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, are the only men in the field other than Chen with world team experience.

Key Skate Times
5:01 p.m. (ET) — Vincent Zhou
5:18 — Tomoki Hiwatashi
5:26 — Andrew Torgashev
5:35 — Nathan Chen
5:43 — Jason Brown

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NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.