Jorgensen gearing for 2020 marathon in Tokyo

Olympic gold medalist and two-time ITU world champion Gwen Jorgensen has announced that she'll pursue professional marathon racing in the future.

| November 7, 2017 | NEWS

Photo >Frank Wechsel / spomedis

Yesterday we posted a story about a pro cyclist turning to triathlon. Today we learn that Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen will turn her sights on the marathon rather than return to triathlon racing after the birth of her son Stanley in August.

“USA Triathlon brought me into this sport and now I’m incredibly privileged to step away at the top, with an Olympic gold medal," Jorgensen said. "Though my near-future training will be focused on winning gold in the marathon in Tokyo, I will always be a part of the USA Triathlon family and look forward to embracing every opportunity to help grow the sport of triathlon. In fact, I hope this new adventure in running will play a big part in doing exactly that.”

Jorgensen swam and ran for the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison is the sight of Ironman Wisconsin) and was recruited by USA Triathlon in 2010. That year she balanced work as an accountant with her elite triathlon training and earned USA Triathlon Rookie of the year honors. By 2012 she had earned a spot on the US Olympic team for London, but her race was derailed thanks to a flat tire and she would end up 38th.

The following year she began a run of WTS titles that included five straight in 2014 and another seven straight in 2015, taking the ITU world titles in both years. Her 12-race win streak ended with a runner up finish at the Gold Coast event in April, 2016, but Jorgensen would go on to take two more WTS titles in addition to her Olympic gold that year.

Jorgensen arrived in Rio as the outright favorite, but did have to face a spirited challenge from defending gold medalist Nicola Spirig. After her race in Rio Jorgensen finished 14th at the New York City Marathon, finishing in a time of 2:41:01, which bodes well for her Olympic marathon aspirations.

Jorgensen's impressive run splits changed the dynamics of the women's racing at WTS events - her competition would do everything they could to open up a gap on her into T2 in hopes of holding her off in the marathon, which has seen a new-found emphasis on swimming and cycling skills in the women's races. Two-time ITU world champion Flora Duffy has been quite open about having to work on her running to be better able to hold off Jorgensen - last year at WTS Leeds Jorgensen managed to overcome a 1:40 deficit to the Bermudan starting the run and turn that into a 50-second victory. Duffy's run has improved, but she still sets the stage for many of her wins with a dominating bike leg.

While Jorgensen will be sorely missed by USA Triathlon, her legacy appears to have inspired a number of American women to strive for the top echelons of the sport. This year three American women finished in the top 10 of the ITU rankings: Katie Zaferes (third), Kirsten Kasper (fourth) and Summer Cook (10th). Taylor Spivey was 12th in the overall standings, Renee Tomlin 22nd and Taylor Knibb, 19, is a rising young talent on the ITU scene - she rounded out the top 25 this year.