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Jorgensen Says Being An Unknown Helped Her Succeed In London

Not being on other athletes' radars contributed to her success at the 2011 ITU WCS London race.

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American Gwen Jorgensen says that not being on other athletes’ radars contributed to her success at the 2011 ITU WCS London race.

Photo: Paul Phillips

Standing out there on a long dock floating in the middle of a lake in London’s Hyde Park last August, Gwen Jorgensen readied herself for her biggest race to date. Surrounded by some of the most notable triathletes in the world — women like 2008 gold medalist Emma Snowsill of Australia and fellow American Laura Bennett, a 10-year veteran in the sport — Jorgensen was a relative unknown. Having raced her first competitive triathlon in March 2010, she might have been seen as an up-and-comer, perhaps, but certainly she was too new to the sport to be considered a legitimate threat.

“I was very lucky in that race,” she says. “No one knew who I was, so that played to my advantage a lot.”

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When she dove into the open water of the Serpentine, she wasn’t unduly jostled about or pushed around too much; on the bike path, she found the other cyclists let her draft, not feeling the need to drop her during the picturesque 40-kilometer ride through Knightsbridge and passes Wellington Arch and Buckingham Palace. (The course, which Jorgensen says is rather flat and not particularly technical, will be the same at the 2012 Games.) At the second transition, going into the run, Jorgensen was part of the lead pack, in a perfect position to let her God-given talent take over.

Read more: Sportsillustrated.cnn.com