Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen won gold after a spectacular run showdown with Japan’s Yuko Takahashi, who delivered an impressive performance to hang onto World Cup silver, and Czech Republic’s Tereza Zimovjanova, earning a career best bronze medal, at the World Triathlon’s World Cup tour in Tongyeong, South Korea, on Saturday morning, 21 October, 2023.
“I wasn’t thrilled with my swim in my transition but you know to feel the comeback and when I guess after that, it is exciting and you know I’m just trying to set myself up so that next year I can put myself in position to qualify for the Olympics.”World Triathlon’s World Cup Gold Medallist, Gwen Jorgensen
Earlier in the morning, 53 of the world’s best Elite women had lined up to battled it out along the beautiful South Sea in a challenging sprint-distance race format in the Tongyeong stop of the 2023 World Triathlon Cup.
Yuko Takahashi was wearing number 1, and the Japanese athlete led the women’s field through the 750m swim, with Hungary’s Zsanett Bragmayer, Belgium’s Claire Michel and Cambodia’s Margot Garabedian hot on her heels.
Takahashi, Bragmayer, Michel, Great Britain’s Hollie Elliot, Spain’s Cecilia Santamaria Surroca, Japan’s Sarika Nakayama and Canada’s Sophia Howell were the first women through transition and onto the 20km bike course.
USA’s Gwen Jorgensen and Great Britain’s Vicky Holland were 25-seconds down on the leaders, coming out of the water.
Swim Stragglers Catch Up for a Bike Leg Break
On the first lap of the bike, an initial group of 4 women led which quickly swelled to a lead group of 7. All leaders were taking turns in the front seat and working hard to maintain the gap that they had over the chase group.
A strong group of 13 women was in the chase group which included USA’s Erika Ackerlund, New Zealand’s Ainsley Thorpe, Szofia Kovács and Jorgensen, who had ridden her way up from the next group.
Olympic medallist and new mother Vicky Holland, who returned to racing this month after only giving birth in January this year, hadn’t stuck with the leaders and was riding 25 seconds down.
By the second lap on the bike, the chase group had joined the leaders to form a group of 18 who continued to push the tempo out in front. This group now included the likes of Bragymayer, Kovács, Slovakia’s Romana Gajdošová, South Africa’s Shanae Williams, Thorpe, Czech Republic’s Tereza Zimovjanova, Michel, Takahashi and Jorgensen. The group featured some seriously strong running talent which would come into play on the next segment of the race.
The gap had now extended to 34 seconds to the large group of chasing athletes, who were not getting up on the wheels of the leading 18.
Claire Michel and Yuko Takahashi, training partners, looked fantastic as they exchanged the lead and continued to open up the lead. Jorgensen took her turn out in front and put a lot of effort on the bike.
By the final bike lap the leader’s advantage was now 36 seconds and it came down to positioning as the women entered their final transition of the day.
Transition to Run Causes Some Delays, Jorgensen Powers to the Lead
Bragmayer, Takahashi, Michel were the fastest through transition. Jorgensen seemed to have some trouble with the switch which delayed her leaving transition and onto the run.
Zimovjanova took it out hard as she took charge of the opening stage of the 5km run. Takahashi was running in second, going with her own tempo, and Thorpe was right there with Kovács running in fourth.
The pace was firing across the sprint distance run course and the field was scattered as the leaders were stretching it out front. Elliot, Michel and Jorgensen started to wind it up and apply pressure as they were now running in third and fourth.
Takahashi took over the lead and then it was Jorgensen who surged right to the front, showing the world her masterclass running ability. Zimovjanova was not letting go and held right to the front.
Jorgensen powered ahead and in true form, ran away to victory, earning the gold medal in the 2023 World Triathlon Cup Tongyeong in a winning time of 00:58:16. A master class display by the Rio 2016 Olympic champion who has come back to triathlon racing after having two sons.
“You know I was happy to get up to the front, I had a few mistakes today so I’m not really thrilled with my process today, but I’m always happy to come over to the win. I had pre-run this course a few times and so I kind of knew what the angles to take and how to kind of take the best line, and so I was really trying to just work my way up,” said Jorgensen.
“I feel like I had a horrible swim I’m really disappointed with my swim today, and then on the bike it was a little bit of like all the way on or totally easy and then we got a transition, and I my hands were so cold I couldn’t get on my shoes, and I just felt like it was a pretty crazy so for me I tried to stay in the moment, tried to stay present, and just worked my way up.”
Takahashi, who has recently been crowned 2023 Asian Games champion and earned the National title in Japan last week, showcased incredible form across all aspects of today’s race and ran across the line to claim the silver medal in Tongyeong.
“It’s been a while since my last time on the podium, World Cup podium was actually in 2015 in here, Tongyeong so I am really happy to be on the podium again,” said silver medallist Takahashi.”
A delighted Zimovjanova crossed the line, elated with her performance, to be awarded her first World Cup medal and bronze today.
“Honestly, I was really, really surprised on the run, I was still waiting for someone to pass me and I was like, there’s no way I am going to be on the podium and then yes, I’m just really really happy,” said bronze medallist Zimovjanova.
Main Photo Caption: The USA’s Gwen Jorgensen won gold at the World Triathlon’s World Cup tour in Tongyeong, South Korea, after a run showdown with Japan’s Yuko Takahashi and Czech Republic’s Tereza Zimovjanova at the World Triathlon’s World Cup tour in Tongyeong, South Korea, on Saturday morning, 21 October, 2023. Photo: Janos M. Schmidt | World Triathlon
Photo 2 Caption: Champion of the World Triathlon’s World Cup tour in Tongyeong, South Korea, USA’s Gwen Jorgensen (centre) was joined on the podium with Japan’s Yuko Takahashi (left), who earned silver, and Czech Republic’s Tereza Zimovjanova (right) for a career best bronze at the World Triathlon’s World Cup tour in Tongyeong. Photo: Janos M. Schmidt | World Triathlon
Original words: World Triathlon