Gwen Jorgensen and Nicola Spirig at the 2016 Olympics. Photo: André Motta
On Gwen’s decision to retire from triathlon and take on the marathon? One can only tip their hat and say congratulations and best of luck for the future.
I also don’t think the decision should come as too much of a surprise. Her rise may have been stratospheric, but Gwen is no overnight sensation. After top level swimming and athletics at collegiate level, then 8 hard years in triathlon where she won multiple World Championships and the Gold Medal – what more does she need to prove?
She has now had the good sense to balance her athletic success with starting a family. The reality is having a child while competing is in itself a massive lifestyle change. Factor in that her triathlon training has up until now been managed skilfully by Coach Jamie Turner, whose bases are in Australia and in the summer not the US, but Spain.
To replicate that setup in the US with a young family was going to be very difficult. You don’t win gold medals if you are stupid, and Gwen’s actions throughout her career have proved she is anything but. Ironman was never going to be the skill-set that suited her or her new time constraints. Similar to another super mum, Nicola Spirig, who simply does not have the time to complete the huge training loads that Ironman demands.
So for me, yes it makes sense that running would be the go to plan. The Marathon? I would have thought more 5,000m track. But that’s just one coach’s opinion.
Regardless, for those preparing for Tokyo and thinking the path to the podium just got a little easier. Heed very well the following warning: There is no absolutely no downside to Gwen’s triathlon career by focusing on the run discipline. If in two years Team USA is struggling and the marathon has proved too large a bite, the Stars and Stripes will have a ready made comeback competitor. That’s what our squad will be preparing for anyway.
Until then, from our team we wish Gwen and her family all the best for the next phase of her career.