HAMBURG, Germany — The relay team of Gwen Jorgensen, Ben Kanute, Kirsten Kasper and Joe Maloy earned the United States its first gold medal in the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships on Sunday.
Each team member completed a 300-meter swim, 6.6-kilometer bike and 1.6-kilometer run to finish in 1 hour, 20 minutes, 29 seconds for the gold medal. It was a sprint finish for the silver and bronze medals, with Australia and Germany finishing 29 seconds down from the U.S. in second and third, respectively. This is the first gold and second medal ever for the U.S. team since the mixed team format was introduced in 2009. The Americans had previously won a bronze medal in 2013.
Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.) led off the first leg, riding with women from eight other nations: Brazil, France, Great Britain, South Africa, Germany, Japan, Russia and the Netherlands. Though the women in the first leg of the relay rode together over the 6.6k bike course, Jorgensen began to open a gap early on the run and was the first woman from the first leg to tag the next team member.
Kanute (Geneva, Ill.) had an 11 second advantage heading into the water and ended up riding the first lap of the bike with Frenchman Aurelien Raphael. On the second lap, Kanute broke away to ride solo, a gutsy move which helped put the U.S. up roughly 45 seconds with two athletes to go. Kanute and Jorgensen posted the fastest times of the day — 19:09 for Kanute, and 20:03 for Jorgensen — which gave the U.S. the advantage it needed to maintain the lead through the rest of the race.
“I just went as hard as I could,” Kanute said post-race. “On the bike, I was feeling really good, and me and Raphael weren’t working the best together, so I punched it through a few corners and just found myself on the front. I just went after it.”
Once Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) hit the water, she increased her gap into the first transition by 1 minute, and then she had to hold off six women who were riding in a group behind her trying to make up the time and close the gap. Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.) also completed his leg of the race alone, maintaining a distance of nearly 30 seconds into the final finish straight to clinch the gold medal and the world title for the U.S.
“The key word is team. I crossed the line but we shook hands in between legs, and I couldn’t have done it without these guys,” Maloy said in a post-race interview with ITU media. “We compete all the time individually, and it’s nice to group up. There’s a lot behind the scenes that goes on with camaraderie and this is kind of a visual example of it, which is really cool.”
Jorgensen, Kanute and Maloy are three of the six members of the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team heading to Rio next month for the Olympic Games. With the world title today, and the individual victory by Katie Zaferes (Hampstead, Md.) on Saturday at World Triathlon Hamburg, four of the Olympic-bound Americans have stood on the top of the podium with just a month to go before their competitions on Aug. 18 and 20. Learn more about the U.S. Olympic Triathlon and Paratriathlon Teams at usatriathlon.org/rio2016.
ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships
4x 300m swim, 6.6k bike, 1.6k run
1. United States (Gwen Jorgensen, Ben Kanute, Kirsten Kasper, Joe Maloy), 1:20:29
2. Australia, 1:20:58
3. Germany, 1:20:58