Duffy rival Jorgensen quits for marathon

  • Gwen Jorgensen, centre, and Flora Duffy, left, pose with Britain’s Vicky Holland after last year’s WTS race in Leeds (Photograph by Nigel French/PA via AP)

Gwen Jorgensen announced yesterday that she will not be taking on Flora Duffy for the triathlon gold medal at the 2020 Olympic Games, but intends to compete in the marathon in Tokyo.

The American won gold at the Rio de Janeiro Games last year, with Duffy finishing eighth, and did not compete in the 2017 season to give birth to her son, Stanley, in August.

Duffy took to Twitter to congratulate her great rival yesterday, calling her an “inspiration”, but the news means that one of the biggest hurdles for the Bermudian to claim her own Olympic title is now out of the way.

Duffy tweeted: “All the best Gwen! Will miss you on the circuit but can’t wait to watch you tackle your new goal. Thanks for the inspiration!”

Jorgensen, 31, won International Triathlon Union World Series titles in 2014 and the following year, with Duffy winning the 2016 and 2017 editions in record fashion. Duffy and Jorgensen are the only women to have won six WTS races in a season, with the Bermudian holding the record winning margin in series history for both standard and sprint races.

“I’m excited to just try something that’s completely new,” Jorgensen told USA Today. “I also think, triathlon, it picked me. USA Triathlon came to me and said, ‘We think you’d be good at this.’ Marathon is something I’m now picking.”

Jorgensen’s strength in triathlon has always been her run. She broke away from Duffy and the rest in Rio to win gold in a time of 1hr 56min 16sec, 40 seconds ahead of Nicola Spirig, the Swiss silver medal-winner. Duffy, now 30, was more than two minutes back in 1:58:25.

Jorgensen ran the New York City Marathon in November last year and finished fourteenth in a time of 2:41:01 despite that being the first time she had tackled the distance.

“I had so much fun doing that, but I was disappointed,” Jorgensen said. “I thought I could do better. I wondered: ‘What could I do if I immersed myself in a training environment?’”

It is clear that this next challenge means a lot to Jorgensen, who tweeted that she had ticked the boxes of being the world and Olympic triathlon champion, as well as being a mother. However, her ambition to win the Olympic marathon gold medal is still unchecked.

“A lot of things have changed [since Rio],” Jorgensen said. “I kind of felt like I achieved what I wanted to achieve [in triathlon], and what I needed was a new challenge.

“This makes me excited, and makes me really passionate to get up every day and train.”