How many World Triathlon Series races will Gwen Jorgensen win in her career?
My Road to Paratriathlon
When I moved to San Diego, we decided to see one last doctor. He suggested a biopsy and a few short days later I was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma. I was 16. I went through radiation treatments and was put into remission. Less than one year later, my tumor returned. Several weeks before my 18th birthday and the beginning of my senior year of high school my left foot was amputated. Life continued on and I went off to UC Davis for college.
I spent much of my time after my amputation missing sports. After I graduated and returned to Southern California, I learned about Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and the fantastic things they were doing for physically challenged athletes like me. I attended one event and was so inspired by the accomplishments of other amputees! I had no idea how much was possible. I applied for a CAF grant for a running prosthetic and set my first goal (which was also my New Year’s resolution): finish a triathlon. CAF also set me up with another female amputee to mentor me and help me work toward my goal.
In August 2011, I raced in New York City at the USA Paratriathlon National Championships. Not only was this my first trip to New York, it was also my first triathlon using my running prosthetic and my first Olympic-distance triathlon. I finished in first place in the Female TRI-5 division (below knee amputees). This race qualified me to race at Paratriathlon World Championships in Beijing!
Having the opportunity to race in Beijing, as a member of Team USA was something I never imagined would be possible when my foot was amputated. It was such an amazing experience to race abroad with paratriathletes from all over the world. It was a great course and I came back to the U.S. with a gold medal!