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Reliving the Best U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Triathlon Moments

By Michael Wright, USA Triathlon | June 23, 2020, 2:21 a.m. (ET)

On Olympic and Paralympic Day, USA Triathlon is joining all of the U.S. Olympic National Governing Bodies in celebrating Team USA. The Olympic family’s celebration ties in perfectly to National Triathlon Week, as the multisport community comes together to celebrate triathlon and its 46-year history in the U.S.

To commemorate the day, we’ve compiled a list of some of the greatest U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Triathlon moments since the sport made its debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Join us in reliving these iconic moments and read commentary from some of the athletes who made them happen! 

2000 Olympic Debut in Sydney

Triathlon made its official Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games. The event had 100 contestants total, with 48 female athletes and 52 male athletes competing.

Each competitor had to complete a 1500-meter swim, followed by a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.

The U.S. impressed in its Olympic debut, with Joanna Zeiger leading the way and finishing fourth among all women.

The men’s race concluded with a podium of Canada’s Simon Whitfield, Germany’s Stefan Vuckovic and Jan Rehula of the Czech Republic. Switzerland’s Brigitte McMahon took the gold in the women’s race, with Australia’s Michellie Jones taking the silver and Magali Di Marco Messmer of Switzerland rounding out the podium in third.

Susan Williams’ Bronze Medal in 2004

At the Athens Olympic Games in 2004, American Susan Williams captured Team USA’s first Olympic triathlon medal.  After the birth of her daughter, Sydney, in 2000, she set her sights on making the 2004 Olympic team. 

After achieving her goal of making the team, she proudly won that first Olympic medal with a hard-earned bronze. After Athens, Williams used her knowledge and love for the sport to help teach and inspire the next generation of athletes.

Grace Norman’s Paralympic Gold Medal in 2016

Grace Norman’s Paralympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympics was a monumental moment for the sport, as she became the first recipient of a paratriathlon Paralympic medal.

Born missing her left leg below the knee as a result of congenital band syndrome, Norman was fitted with her first prosthetic at the age of one. After taking up the sport in 2014, Norman quickly rose the ranks in the paratriathlon world before competing in Rio.

At just 18-years-old, Norman broke the tape in paratriathlon's Paralympic debut. 

Paralympic Sweep in 2016 in Women’s PT2 Category

The U.S. Paralympic Women’s Triathlon team left its mark at the 2016 Paralympic Games with a podium sweep in the PT2 category. The trio of Allysa Seely, Hailey Danz, and Melissa Stockwell etched their names in the record books with a dominant performance from all three athletes.

Four years later, they shared what made the moment so special in an interview with USA Triathlon before National Triathlon Week.

“Every athlete knows the incredible feeling of accomplishing a goal you have worked long and hard for,” Seely — the gold medalist in Rio — told USA Triathlon in an interview this week. “That indescribable feeling was felt as I crossed the finish line. Chills covered my body as I grabbed the finishing banner even though it was 90+ degrees with 90% humidity.

“Standing atop the podium and hearing our country’s national anthem has fueled me to be stronger physically and mentally so that I can race for that chance again in 2021.”

Stockwell, the bronze medalist, recalls how meaningful it was to cross the finish line and celebrate with her U.S. teammates.

The USA sweep on Sep 11, 2016 will go down as one of the greatest days of my life,” Stockwell said. “It was the paratriathlon Paralympic debut and I was standing on a podium with my two teammates showing the world the power of the American spirit.

“When I think about seeing three American flags raised as we heard our national anthem, I am still overcome with emotion. It doesn't get much better than that.”

Gwen Jorgensen’s Olympic Gold Medal in Rio in 2016

Gwen Jorgensen earned the first Olympic gold for the United States in the sport of triathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Jorgensen’s dominance in the sport prior to the Olympics was nothing short of unstoppable. She won 13 consecutive top-level triathlons, including 12 straight World Triathlon Series races, something no triathlete had accomplished before.

In Rio, she dominated on her way to gold, beating the second-place finisher by 40 seconds.

During National Triathlon Week, USA Triathlon has created a bracket of the 40 best U.S. triathlon moments of all time — including these great performances at the Olympic & Paralympic Games.

Vote for all your favorite moments, round by round and matchup by matchup, every day during #TriWeek on usatriathlon.org.