Gwen Jorgensen wins USA's first gold in women's triathlon

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Gwen Jorgensen has won a lot of races in the past two years, but none will compare to Saturday’s triumph in triathlon.

Jorgensen became the first American woman to win gold in the sport, capping an amazing two-year stretch that has seen her win all but two individual races since April 2014.

As Jorgensen crossed the finish line with a time of 1:56:16 – 40 seconds faster than Swiss silver medalist Nicola Spirig – the emotion was palpable. Four years ago in London, Jorgensen finished a dismal 38th after a flat tire derailed her race.

She had considered quitting the sport.

Gwen Jorgensen of the United States wins the women’s triathlon competition of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gwen Jorgensen of the United States wins the women’s triathlon competition of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

But Saturday, it felt like it was Jorgensen’s race to lose. She and Spirig, the gold medal winner in London, ran side-by-side through much of the final leg taking turns in the lead. Then Jorgensen started to push, started to smile and even started to chat a little bit with her competitor. It was clear she still had a lot of gas in the tank while Spirig started to labor.

“Obviously, we each wanted to win and she was playing a little bit of games and I was playing a little bit and it made it fun and hopefully exciting for the fans,” Jorgensen said.

[Related: In 5,000-meter finish, Nikki Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino are winners]

Jorgensen started to distance herself from Spirig with about a mile and half remaining and Spirig was never able to close the gap.

Following the disappointment in London, Jorgensen, who was the favorite in this race, upended her life, quit her fulltime job and moved overseas to train nine months out of the year in Wollongong, Australia and Vitoria, Spain. She set a record with 13 consecutive victories in the ITU’s World Triathlon Series from May 17, 2014 to April 3.

Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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