Why I'm so impressed with Gwen Jorgensen (U.S. Gold Medalist in Women's Triathlon)

Before Saturday morning, I’d never heard of Gwen Jorgensen. I tuned in to the Olympics and the featured event was the women’s triathlon. The announcers quickly said that a woman named Gwen Jorgensen was the favorite to win the gold medal. Her story was interesting so I pushed “record” and went about my Saturday morning.

While Gwen was swimming, biking, and running, I went to Starbucks, walked the dog, stopped by the bank to make a deposit, and did some laundry. All that while, she was still at it. That was impressive.

Her story caught my attention because she’s a Midwestern girl. She was a stand-out runner at University of Wisconsin and thought her athletic career would end when she left college so she earned a master’s degree in accounting and went to work for EY (Ernst & Young).

I love the story of someone who’s living a seemingly normal life being discovered. Remember the actress Lana Turner? She was supposedly discovered in a drugstore.  You don’t hear stories like that very often. Gwen was recruited into triathlon competition by the USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program who liked her style in running and swimming and convinced her she could be good in the bicycle portion, too

When you hear the story of a star athlete who is the son or daughter of someone else who is a sports star, you can understand it’s an advantage. But when someone was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and went about her life, then athletic success found HER…that’s really interesting.

Gwen said in an interview about her life before triathlons, she really loved going to work in her cubicle at EY. And that’s not the only factoid we’ve learned about her: She eats dark chocolate after every meal: Another reason to like her!

There’s also a very sweet story about how her husband walked away from his career as a professional cyclist to support her bid for gold. The headline may make you cringe: “Gwen Jorgensen’s husband Patrick is the secret to her success” – but it’s a great story.


During the bicycle portion of today’s race, the announcer said one of Gwen’s “fears” is crashing on her bike. Really? Worried about crashing when you’re racing around curves surrounded by other women speeding along on bikes? See? I told you she was normal.  

So Gwen won. She cried. And I was so excited. I was inspired – so later that Saturday, I did a mile on the elliptical machine, I swam 15 laps, and I rented a bicycle for Sunday morning. Well, it’s a start isn’t it?