If you don’t know the name Gwen Jorgensen, you soon will. If not by the end of the Chicago competition, to be held Sept. 15-19 in the Grant Park area, then most definitely by the end of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro where she will be a prohibitive favorite to pick up a gold medal for the United States.
Jorgensen, a Waukesha, Wis., native and a 2010 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, headlines the field of 150 elite triathletes and more than 6,500 of the best age-bracket triathletes and parathletes from 64 countries competing in Chicago.
This year Jorgenson has swept gold medals in seven ITU World Triathlon events in Abu Dhabi, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, London, Germany and a Rio test event and USA Olympic Trials in Rio De Janeiro, site of the 2016 Olympic Games next August.
Her win streak stands at 13, including victories in the last six events of 2014. Since turning pro in 2012 the former certified accountant has 18 ITU victories. Put in perspective, in the history of ITU, no other athlete has won more than five events in their career.
“Right now there is Gwen and there is everyone else,” said Lindsay Wyskowski, a communications manager at USA Triathlon. “She has been in a league of her own.”
That’s not to say the Chicago competition is a lock. The United States boasts the top three-ranked triathletes in the world and 150 of the world’s best are seeking the world title, including second-ranked Katie Zaferes, a 2012 graduate of Syracuse and third-ranked Sarah True, a 2004 graduate of Middlebury College.
“Katie and Sarah are very good but I think for anyone to catch Gwen right now something woud have to happen with Gwen,” Wyskowski said. “It’s going to be an exciting race to watch.”
Jorgensen hasn’t lost since Aril 26, 2014 when she placed third in Cape Town, South Africa. In that race, Wyskowski said Jorgensen came out of the water trailing the lead pack and couldn’t make up the time.
Jorgensen has been eyeing the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics since placing 36th in 2012 at the London Games. Her poor showing was due to flat tire during the bike portion.
The elite races in Chicago will feature multi-loop, spectator-friendly bike and run courses in Grant Park with the swim portion in Monroe Harbor. The Grand Final races begin at 6 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 18, and Saturday, Sept. 19.
The age-group ITU World Championships for Olympic-distance and sprint triathlons were last held in the United States in 2005 when Honolulu, Hawaii played host. This the first time the elite ITU World Triathlon Grand Final is being held in Chicago.