Coach Cindi Bannink shares some of the training tactics she’s using to guide Gwen Jorgensen to a podium finish at the 2012 London Olympics.
Soon-to-be-Olympian Gwen Jorgensen met coach Cindi Bannink through USAT’s Collegiate Recruitment Program in 2009, right after graduating from the University of Wisconsin. The Madison-based coach, who just earned the honor of USAT Coach of the Year last week, knew Jorgensen had just come out of a good running program and that she’d done a lot of swimming—but she was just getting on a bike.
“Just because someone can run doesn’t mean they have what it takes to be a good triathlete,” Bannink says. “She didn’t have the advantage of someone who’s been riding a bike for 10 years. She’s really had a steep learning curve in that department.” Getting Jorgensen comfortable on the bike was top priority, and it paid off: at her first race in March of 2010, she earned her pro card. Flash forward a year and a half later and Jorgensen’s runner-up finish at the 2011 London ITU World Championship Series event qualified her for the Olympics. She’s one of two Americans with a secured spot on the team.
What will it take to win gold in London? “Without getting technical, at that level of racing there’s any number of about 10 girls that could win—maybe more than that,” Bannink says. “At the top level, everyone is there to win and I think it comes down to how the race plays out and who’s going to be the most mentally tough that day. Whoever is willing to push their body beyond the level where anyone else is willing to go.”
Here are some strategies that Bannink has used with her gold-medal hopeful that you can apply to your own training.