Gwen Jorgensen has spent the past two years proving herself as the most successful woman in the history of triathlon. Now, she has guaranteed herself the chance to win the biggest prize missing from her resume: Olympic gold.
Jorgensen qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by winning the 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event on Sunday, when she finished in a time of 1:58:46.
"It's amazing to have qualified for the Olympics," said Jorgensen. "This has been the first step in my goal of aspiring to win gold in Rio next year since the 2012 Olympics. 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."
After entering her first Olympic appearance in 2012 as a favorite, Jorgensen finished a disappointing 38th, suffering from a flat tire on the bike leg. Since then, she has become the winningest woman in her sport, claiming a total of 14 World Triathlon Series wins. Her 14 wins are nearly three times the amount of any other woman in series history.
Her current win streak of 11 began in May 2014.
Also qualifying for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team is Sarah True (nee Groff), who finished fourth Sunday in 1:59:46. True finished fourth at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She won her first WTS title in August 2014.
"I was trying to race for position and not race for the podium. I was fighting for third, but Vicky went down and she still got it. She's my buddy and I'm super psyched for her, but it would have been nice to be on the podium," True said. "I knew it was going to be hard this year. We have so much depth. I'm happy I got through. I know I sound like a broken record, but after London, I learned that I didn't approach the race as a potential medalist. Now I have a year to wrap my head around that and train accordingly. I'm just trying to stay healthy, progress and peak at the right time."
Jorgensen and True are currently ranked first and third in the World Triathlon Series rankings. They also finished first and second at the 2014 world championships.
Fellow U.S. triathlete Katie Zaferes finished sixth, but was not able to qualify for Rio on Sunday as a maximum of two spots per gender were on the line.
Zaferes, ranked No. 2 in the world, and other U.S. women will look to qualify in the spring of 2016.
Jorgensen, 29, and True, 33, become the sixth and seventh members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, joining pentathlete Nathan Schrimsher, table tennis player Yue ”Jennifer” Wu, and open water swimmers Jordan Wilimovsky, Sean Ryan and Haley Anderson, all of whom qualified last month.