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Women's Triathlon Team: Pre-race Quotes

By USA Triathlon | Aug. 17, 2016, 3:19 p.m. (ET)

The three members of the U.S. Olympic Women’s Triathlon Team shared their thoughts about their upcoming Olympic competition, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. ET on Aug. 20.

Sarah True   Katie Zaferes   Gwen Jorgensen

Sarah True

How this experience differs from London
Any time you’ve been through things the first time, just bringing that experience to Rio definitely helps. I also arrived a lot sooner here than I did before London. The lead-up a few days before was a rush — a flurry of activity. Whereas, I’ve grounded myself in Rio de Janeiro — been able to unwind a bit, give myself some time to be here, to be present. I think it makes a big difference.

Most challenging part of the race in Rio
Personally for me, I think the heat and humidity could be the most challenging. I’ve done some heat training, but I’m a New Englander. We don’t do so well with temperatures over 80 and humid. I mean, come on now! Give me cold, pouring rain any day over those sorts of conditions.

How True combats those challenges
I addressed it. We had heat protocol that I followed over the last month. I’m mentally prepared for it. I do know that it is a factor for me.

Plans after Rio
I’ll fly home. Ben may or may not be racing a couple Diamond League races after this. He’ll find out in the next couple of days. He has an open-ended ticket. Might go to Zurich and Paris for the last couple Diamond League races of the year. And then we’ll regroup sometime in September back at home.

Other races on 2016 schedule
Edmonton, Cozumel and then we’ll see.

Goals for the World Triathlon Series
I had one goal this year and that was the Olympics. I made a lot of changes with coaching. We needed basically to figure it out along the way, and races were a good way to figure out where we were.

Advantage of qualifying a year ago
I could take risks. I could make changes. I didn’t have to focus on qualifying early in the season. I’m a one-peak kind of athlete. I give so much credit to athletes who can sustain it year round. I generally can get fit for one race or for a few months and that’s about it. It fit into my strengths. And knowing that, I knew I had to get my spot last year because it would just be too difficult for me to try to do two builds.

Best part about being an Olympian
The best part of being an Olympian is you join this secret club where everyone knows the handshake and no one can take that away from you. I don’t think I fully appreciated how special it was the first time around. The second time, I’m just so tremendously grateful. I’m not taking any of it for granted. I don’t think I quite had that perspective. I was super psyched to be there in London. It was a goal that I had set and that feeling of achievement. But this time around I have this global perspective. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived side by side with a husband who fell short of his own Olympic goals. But I realize how special it is to go to two Olympics.

Katie Zaferes

Most challenging part of Olympic course and what plays to her strengths
The most challenging part is the downhill for me, but the part that plays to my strengths is basically every other part.

Training for the hills
I worked with Oscar Saiz — he’s been working with me on the downhill and he works with downhill mountain bikers and some of the tour riders. That’s helped a lot. But we go through, we’re radioing and he’s with me, but a lot of it was mental. He said, “You have all of the skills, it’s just like you.” So a lot of it was coming to terms with how is this going to feel. I just wanted it to feel like, this is great, this is fun, this is easy. But that’s not right where I am quite yet. I had to go through and use different processes — I visualized the hill so much, watched the videos of the hill, just being OK with being a little bit uncomfortable. But having those cues, like when I start thinking about something about my weaknesses, just be like “Oh, outside foot,” or something more body language, or start counting.

One of the greatest things I learned is you can only have one emotion at the time. So if I’m not scared, I can do something else to make my mind think of being strong or being confident.

What does it mean to you to be an Olympian?
It’s crazy. It makes me so proud. The first feeling I ever had of this is when I stood on the podium with Sarah and Gwen. I don’t think I understood what it would feel like to have that pride in your country and have your national anthem play. That’s similar to how I feel about being here, except it’s a greater environment where you’re seeing people do it in way different events. I look at other events and I think, oh my god, I would never want to be a gymnast. You get one chance and you’re done. I get two hours to make up for mistakes. So it’s been cool to see the challenges that others are facing and see them succeed in those and blow people’s minds.

Plans after Rio
Home to Santa Cruz for 10 days. And then we have a race in Edmonton. And after that we go to the Grand Final [in Cozumel]. I have a couple more races planned in the later part of the seasons with Island House and a few things. I love my end of season schedule after this, I’m really excited.

First World Triathlon Series win in Hamburg last month
It’s just a really calming feeling. The beginning of the season wasn’t what I wanted. I was really disappointed in myself. With everything going well physically and in training, when it would come to the race I wasn’t executing like I knew. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in the race, and it wasn’t because of my physical capabilities, it was because of my mind. Really I just got sick of myself. I was fed up with how I was racing. To go to Hamburg, knowing I had all the tools with skills and physical capabilities and just being able to execute that and not really think about it, just go — I’m so much more calm going into Rio having done that know, feeling I’ve broken my wonky part that I was in, and I’m back to how I was last year. Knowing to keep it simple and be happy. Just to enjoy everything.

What it means to be on the Olympic Team
It’s crazy. One of my favorite things has been the amount support I’ve gotten from all parts of life. From Santa Cruz to Hampstead to people I know from college. To me, that part just fills my heart to the top of the brim and it makes me happy to represent all of them here. I’m representing the U.S., I’m representing my family, I’m representing so many different things, and that’s what I take the most pride in. All of those things have helped to get me to where I am. And to be able to show them that all their help was worth it, that I appreciate it. From a cheer to housing me. That’s the biggest part that makes me happy.

Gwen Jorgensen

Most challenging part of Olympic course and what plays to her strengths
I think in triathlon you never know what’s going to happen. We raced on this course last year, but how the race played out last year isn’t necessarily how it’s going to play out this year. Going into any race, I think that’s something that you have to be aware of and prepared for. It’s an ocean swim, which I really am looking forward to. I train in Wollongong, Australia, for part of the year, and we get some training in, in the ocean and I just love swimming in the ocean. I think it’s fun. On the bike, there’s a hill that we have to go over a total of eight times that’s significant, and I think that hill could be a breaking point in the race. Then you start the run, and running off the bike like that, you’re going to have fatigued legs. I think it will be a challenging course for everyone, and I’m excited to go out and give it my everything.

Heat in Rio
I like competing in the heat. I think it’s pretty well known that I hate competing when it’s cold out. But it could be cold here; there have been a few days in the Olympics when it looked cold and rainy, and you had people dressed up for that. You have to be prepared for any situation, and we know that it could be hot, or it could be cold and rain on race day. We prepare for that, and everyone has the same conditions on race day. It’s an uncontrollable element, so it’s something you can’t think about too much.

Second Olympics; what does it mean to you to compete as an Olympian
It’s a huge honor to be representing the United States of America. Every time I race I have USA on my suit, but there’s something extra special at the Olympics when you know you’re representing your country and everyone’s tuning in. I’ve been focused for four years to come here and execute, and I’m excited to see what happens on Saturday.

Preparation for Olympics vs. regular series races
The Olympics are a bigger event, and it’s something that you have to be prepared for, and know that there are additional measures that may not happen at a World Triathlon Series race. There’s more security, more fans, more people — there’s a lot more going on. I think if you prepare for that and you know that going in, you can kind of roll with the punches and let it be. We have USA Triathlon here, and they’ve been providing a ton of support which has made things easier. We have a chef who’s come in and has been cooking us amazing meals, so Patrick’s had some time off of cooking and has been able to spend more time with me. It’s just nice to have that support, and even though it’s a bigger race, we’re preparing like we normally would.

What are you looking forward to the most?
Representing my country. It’s something that’s such a unique opportunity and not everyone gets to do that. I’m going to go out there and give it my everything, in honor of representing my country.

Difference between this Olympic experience and four years ago
It’s completely different this year. This has been a very focused four years, leading into Rio. Four years before London, I had never ridden a road bike in my life. I’ve been on this four year build-up to Rio, and with Jamie Turner and the Wollongong Wizards I’ve been training in this training environment. I’ve had Patrick with me, which has been a huge help and he’s been here supporting me. I have a huge support network, and a lot of people who have believed in me and allowed me to do this full time, and really focus all my energy. I’m just focusing on racing and training and it’s been wonderful to have that support.

On racing in Rio
I loved the test event last year, they did a really great job with security, and there were fans everywhere. I was surprised how many people were here, and just knowing how many people were here at the test event makes me excited to see how many people come out this year for the Olympics. Whenever you have fans cheering along the course, it makes it more fun.

Support team on the ground in Rio
I have a ton of people here: my mom, dad and sister, Pat’s mom, dad and sister. I have a couple uncles who are here, and then I have a group of four high school friends and two college friends who are here with their significant others and parents. A lot of people have come out here, and I’m looking forward to seeing them after the race. Hopefully we can have a big dinner and just hang out. I haven’t seen a lot of them in nine months, and my parents I haven’t seen since Christmas. It’s been a long time. My parents actually got in today and I’m looking forward to seeing them later.

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).