Vicky Holland

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

Gwen Jorgensen (barely) extends triathlon streak; Olympic qualifying next

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Gwen Jorgensen had become so dominant this season that in spring World Triathlon Series races she high-fived spectators with her sunglasses resting on her head before crossing the finish line.

Not so in Hamburg, Germany, on Saturday.

The accountant-turned-World champion won her record-extending 11th straight race, but she was tested like never before during an unbeaten run since her last loss April 26, 2014.

Jorgensen trailed in the final half-mile, and, though she retook the lead from Great Britain’s Vicky Holland, she looked over her shoulder in the final sprint and went just about full speed through the finish line.

Jorgensen, with her Oakleys resting on her nose in more traditional fashion this time, crossed in 57 minutes, 8 seconds. Holland was five seconds behind (full results here). Vincent Luis won the men’s race, becoming the first French athlete to take a World Triathlon Series title.

Jorgensen had won her previous 10 straight races all by at least six seconds, the largest by 1 minute, 38 seconds. This was unfamiliar territory.

“A lot was going through my head,” Jorgensen said of the duel with Holland in a finish-area broadcast interview, a few minutes before being handed a large glass of beer on the podium that she took a sip of and then poured on the second- and third-place finishers. “I was like, when do I kick? What do I do? Is she going to kick first? Yeah, she really pushed me.

“I could feel her there on my shoulder.”

Jorgensen, who finished 38th in her Olympic debut in 2012, her hopes punctured by a flat tire, was eight seconds behind after the 750m swim in Hamburg and four seconds back after the 20km bike. Her strength is the run, and Jorgensen proved it again by outdistancing Brits Holland and third-place Non Stanford after 5km. Though Holland proved pesky, even leading Jorgensen (by no more than a stride) late in the race.

Holland was asked her thoughts on possibly being in a position to beat Jorgensen.

“I thought I had a chance of getting closer, maybe, than anyone has done yet this year,” Holland said. “You can’t underestimate Gwen. She’s unbeaten at the moment.”

Americans Sarah True and Katie Zaferes were fourth and sixth, respectively, as they continued to show Olympic medal-prospect form.

Jorgensen notched her 14th career win in 30 World Triathlon Series starts, extending the longest men’s or women’s win streak in series history.

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

The World Triathlon Series continues in Stockholm from Aug. 22-23.

More importantly for Jorgensen, she next heads to Rio de Janeiro for the ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 2. The top two U.S. finishers in the top eight overall automatically earn a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

Jorgensen’s bike helmet includes Paul Bunyan, Bucky Badger