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Where Are They Now? The Original U.S. Tri Olympians

Twenty-ish years after triathlon made its Olympic debut, we check in with that original team.

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Twenty years ago (really 21 years ago), triathlon became an official Olympic sport at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. The six members (and two alternates) from the original U.S. triathlon team carried on the Olympic spirit of sportsmanship, fortitude, and leadership with them to today. Here’s a look at where they are now.

Jennifer Gutierrez, Team Captain

After the Sydney Olympics, Gutierrez returned to teaching physical education and has now served an impressive 26 years as an educator for the Jefferson County public school system in Colorado. She and husband Ben have two teenage boys. The family loves skiing, and Gutierrez continues to hit the trails and roads on her collection of bikes. She’s thrilled to have been a teacher for so long, and said she feels she picked exactly the right career. 

Ryan Bolton

Bolton was the final qualifier to make the team for Sydney. After the Olympics, he moved to long-course triathlon, winning the 2002 edition of Ironman Lake Placid. Upon retiring Bolton completed a graduate degree in metabolism nutrition. He founded Bolton Endurance Sports Training, where he has worked with some of today’s best-known athletes, including Mirinda Carfrae, Tim O’Donnell, Sam Long, Heather Jackson, and Ben Hoffman. He also founded the Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Haramabee Project, working with a group of elite distance runners. He coached Caroline Rotich to her 2015 Boston Marathon victory, and has worked with Aliphine Tuliamuk, who won the US Olympic Marathon trials last year in Atlanta and will represent Team USA in Japan.

Looking for some guidance from Bolton? Check out his six-week plan to get race ready exclusive for our members.

Hunter Kemper

In 2000, Kemper was the youngest member of the Olympic tri team. He went on to qualify for three successive Olympic Games and remains the most decorated U.S. Olympic triathlete. But one of his proudest moments was a trip to the market to buy a box of Wheaties–with his picture on it. Kemper is one of only three triathletes ever to be featured on the cereal box. Today, Kemper has retired from the sport and is the proud father of four. The 2000 Olympic Games gave him more than those five rings; they also gave him his wife, Val, whom he met at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs while she was training with the women’s indoor volleyball team. Today, Kemper is a public speaker on topics including perseverance and faith.

Kemper will also be hosting the joint Triathlete & USAT pre-race Facebook Live commentary for the men’s race. 

Nick Radkewich

Radkewich continues to share his love of endurance sports with others. He created the Avenger Racing Team to mentor and nurture junior athletes, coached collegiate cross-country for several years, and is in his second season as head coach of the Wingate University triathlon team in North Carolina. He’s also the chief strategy officer for a latent knowledge, an AI-focused tech startup. He and his wife Susan have five kids—two are finishing their PhDs and not one of them is a triathlete. (He says they all think triathlon is “a little crazy.”) Along the way, Radkewich discovered a love for fly fishing, and spending lazy, quiet days on a river or lake—which he considers the exact opposite of triathlon.

Sheila Taormina

Taormina is a four-time Olympian and was the first woman from any country to qualify for four Olympic Games in three different sports. She earned a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics as part of the U.S. swim team, where she swam the third leg of the Olympic-record-setting 800m freestyle relay. In 2000 and 2004 she made the U.S. triathlon team, and in 2008 the modern pentathlon team. Today, Taormina is best known for her books, including Swim Speed Secrets from our sister publisher VeloPress. She’s also busy conducting research with her new swim-mechanics measurement tool (for which she’s received a patent) in her Endless Pool down in Florida. And Taormina discovered a passion for elder care after becoming the primary caregiver for her aunt, whose dementia worsened following hurricane Irma in 2017.

Joanna Zeiger

Zeiger boasts the best result of the 2000 tri team, finishing 4th in the women’s event. She finished 5th at the 2000 Ironman World Championships in Kona just six weeks later. She later won Ironman 70.3 Worlds in 2008, but a career-ending crash in 2009 forced her to give up triathlon and left her with chronic pain. With a PhD in genetic epidemiology, Zeiger now combines her clinical expertise and personal experience to lead groundbreaking scientific studies, including pioneering research of athletes and the use of medical marijuana. She helms Race Ready Coaching out of Boulder and is the acclaimed author of The Champion Mindset.

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Siri Lindley, alternate

As one of two alternates to the 2000 team, Lindley did not get to compete, but has since become a respected coach, having worked with Mirinda Carfrae, Leanda Cave, and Ellie Salthouse through her Team Sirius. She is also the author of Surfacing: From the Depths of Self-Doubt to Winning Big and Living Fearlessly (also from VeloPress) and she recovered from leukemia last year. Lindley is a passionate advocate for animals and the co-founder of Believe Ranch and Rescue at her home outside Boulder, Colorado, an equine rescue and adoption non-profit.

Victor Plata, alternate

Following his alternate status in 2000, Plata qualified for Team USA in the 2004 Games. He later served on the USA Triathlon Board of Directors as an athlete representative. He holds a law degree from University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law, and today is a teacher and coach at the Palma School in Salinas. In the summers, the father of two goes back to his roots–as a lifeguard on Monterrey beach–the same job he held as a 17-year-old.

RELATED: How Triathlon’s Addition to the Olympics Impacted Our Sport