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How many World Triathlon Series races will Gwen Jorgensen win in her career?
A Team Win at FISU World University Triathlon Championships
Traveling to Brasilia, Brazil a couple weeks ago to attend the International University Sports Federation’s (FISU) World University Triathlon Championships, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This would be my second international race, but representing your country in an event like this, there is level of excitement and anxiousness like nothing else. I wasn’t sure how my body would handle racing after the long flight or how I would do on a course I had never seen before.We arrived as a team in Brasilia and met a communications barrier with filling out paperwork not written in the English language. There was also the realization that airport customs can be a big struggle when traveling with bikes, wheels and equipment. Multiple times we were required to take out our bikes for different security checkpoints. However, I was thankful to be there with this team and have excellent coaches – Chris Baker and Courtney Kulick – help along the way.
The next few days were spent in preparation. While all the girls on the team knew one another, this race really bonded us as teammates. With much of the bike course being on an interstate highway and concerns over poor water quality, we had limited access to the course before the event. As race day approached, we were all a little nervous. But it was finally time to compete.
On race day, we were escorted to the course on our bikes along with the other athletes. In preparation, both the men and women’s teams had discussed each other’s weaknesses and ways we would be able to help each other out in the race.
Summer Cook and I have strong swimming backgrounds and planned do our best to lead the team in the water, while Kaitlin Shiver and Michelle Mehnert were strong cyclists and would help Summer and I on the bike leg. As the horn went off, our plan worked perfectly. Americans came out of the water and through transition in places 1-2-4 and 5. At that point and as we continued to work together, I knew how special being part of this team was. Through the first several miles of the bike, the four of us and one member of the Japanese team stayed together. But as we approached the first hill, I struggled and fell off the back. It was the most difficult bike course I had been on and Michelle and I had to work together to survive. Eventually two other athletes caught up and I ended up falling off again. It was hot and hilly and the last two laps were a struggle. But I continued to work hard to keep my position.
The run consisted of four hilly laps. It would not be easy, but as triathletes we enjoy challenges. I picked off runners each lap and finally made my way back to Michelle. As I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t have been more proud to be a part of Team USA. All four of us managed to make the top 10 and we did that by working together. We encourage each other through high fives and cheers. Both the men and women’s teams brought home team titles. This course was a challenge for any athlete, but we did so well was because we helped each other, had great coaches supporting us and an entire federation behind us.
I couldn’t have more proud to stand up on the podium with the American flag across my hip.