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Gwen Jorgensen Announces Return To Tri, Long Road To Olympics

Jorgensen—who switched to running in fall of 2017—announced today that she'll be shooting for a spot on the USA's mixed triathlon team relay at the 2024 Paris Olympics, but the 2016 gold medalist faces a surprisingly uphill battle. Read why.

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“You guys are finally getting what you’ve all been asking for, I’m coming back to triathlon,” Jorgensen, 36, said in a recorded announcement this morning.

The two-time world ITU WTS world champion and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, who left triathlon in 2017 to pursue a running career, says she is returning to draft-legal WTS racing with her eyes on the mixed team relay event in Paris 2024. “I wasn’t able to do [the mixed team relay]  at the 2016 Olympics, it wasn’t an event at the Olympics yet,” she said. “I was super inspired at Tokyo watching Team USA get a silver medal in the team relay, so that is what is really motivating me to get back to triathlon.”

RELATED: Photos: Triathlon Mixed Relay Makes Its Exciting Olympic Debut

She went on to say that it’ll be difficult to even get on the start line at the first qualifying test event in mid August, as Jorgensen is currently unranked with her most recent WTS result recorded back in 2016.

Gwen’s (Not-So-Easy) Path to Paris

According to USA Triathlon’s Olympic Qualifying Event Criteria, to gain entry to a WTCS event, an athlete “must be a current member of the Elite Triathlon National Team or has achieved a top 30 performance in a World Triathlon Cup event in the preceding 18 months,” along with other criteria. Even then, the U.S. can only send a maximum of five women to the test events.

Jorgensen’s lack of a world ranking, recent results, or national team standing, as well as the current depth of American female talent could be challenging—the U.S. has five women ranked in the top 25 of the World Triathlon Championship Rankings as of this writing. While getting into one of the automatic selection events would be very difficult, it wouldn’t be impossible to for Jorgensen to claim a discretionary selection spot on the women’s Olympic team, based on her interest in the mixed team relay.

That pathway would still be tough, as the discretionary selection would only go into effect if all of the automatic slots were not claimed at the three automatic selection events: Paris in August, 2023; WTC Finals in Pontevedra in September, 2023; and a final event to be determined.

Jorgensen admitted the path will be doubly difficult this time around, as she now has two children, she’s decided not to live abroad—as she had in the past—and she says she’ll be “forced to race earlier than I’d like to, before I’m fit, before I’m totally ready.”

Her last WTC event (then ITU WTS) was the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel, where she took second to the current reigning Olympic champion, Flora Duffy. Since then, Jorgensen focused on running and achieved a 31:55 10K PR and 2:36 marathon PR in 2018 and finished ninth at the U.S. Olympic Track Trials in the 10K.

RELATED: The 16 Greatest Triathletes of All Time

Video: Gwen Jorgensen’s Return to Triathlon

RELATED: Gwen Jorgensen on Her Surprising Decision to Leave Triathlon

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