Second-year triathlete emerges as U.S. Olympic contender; more notes
Mark the name Gwen Jorgensen among breakthrough athletes who have recently gone from off-the-radar to Olympic medal contender. A week after clinching a U.S. Olympic triathlon berth at the team's initial qualifying race in London, Jorgensen captured her first victory on the international World Cup circuit, with a stunning rally in Taszaujvaros, Hungary.
Jorgensen trailed by 70 seconds after the bike leg in which she failed to bridge up to the lead riders, but she surgically moved up on the pack, taking 27 seconds off the lead of runner-up Annamaria Mazzetti of Italy in the first lap. Jorgensen finished eight seconds ahead of Mazzetti to become the third U.S. triathlete to win a World Cup event this season. Veteran Hunter Kemper was victorious in Ishigaki, Japan, and Sarah Haskins finished first in Monterrey, Mexico.
Jorgensen, 25, was a swimmer and cross-country runner at the University of Wisconsin when Barb Lundquist, a longtime national team member, talked her into trying the sport. Now just a year and a half after making her debut, the part-time tax accountant has improved her riding and is suddenly among the world's elite.
• Playing in the FIVB World Grand Prix in Komaki, Japan, the U.S. women's volleyball team won its qualifying pool, but lost its undefeated streak over the weekend, dropping a 25-12, 17-25, 25-23, 25-15 decision to Serbia. The United States fell to 5-1 for the tournament and suffered its first defeat in 17 Grand Prix matches dating to 2010. Foluke Akinradewo had nine kills, three blocks and a team-leading 12 points for the squad that committed an uncharacteristic eight errors in the opening set.
• Look for the old guard to clash with some new blood next weekend at the U.S. gymnastics championships in St. Paul, Minn. Roughly 10 months before the Olympic trials in San Jose, Calif., veterans Shawn Johnson, 19, Chellsie Memmel, 23, and Alicia Sacramone, 23, will try to carve some familiar space on the gymnastics landscape. Competing with them are young guns Rebecca Bross, silver medalist at the 2009 worlds, and Jordyn Wieber, the 16-year-old who won the American Cup in March during her first year as a senior.
Bridget Sloan, initially thought to be a contender, pulled out of nationals with a bicep injury, but still has an opportunity to qualify for the world championships through her performance at upcoming training camps. The U.S. women should be among medal contenders at the world championships in Tokyo in October. Memmel, the 2005 world champ, and Sacramone, a nine-time world medalist, both looked strong at the recent Cover Girl Classic in Chicago, where Johnson struggled.
• Though Falmouth, Mass., is host to one of the top road races in the United States, U.S. runners have had nearly as much trouble winning the 7-mile pursuit as they have in most high-level domestic marathons. Not since 1988 has a home runner won the men's race and not since 2003 had a U.S. woman finished first, when Jen Rhines took the top prize. On Sunday, Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy Boulet broke the slump for U.S. citizens, breaking the tape in 36 minutes, 58 seconds, 15 seconds ahead of Burundi's Diane Nukuri-Johnson. The Polish-born Lewy Boulet, 38, obtained citizenship in 2001. Brian Olinger, a converted steeplechaser, took fourth as the top U.S. male finisher.
• China made it a clean sweep of the World Badminton Championships last weekend, taking gold medals in all five classes for the first time. Winners included Lin Dan (men's singles); Wang Yihan (women's singles); Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng (men's doubles); Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang (women's doubles); and Zhao Nan and Zhao Yunlei (mixed doubles). The U.S. team fared poorly in London, where the sister pairing of Iris and Rena Wang won the squad's only match of the tournament before losing in the second round.
• With the deadline looming for cities to bid for the 2020 Olympics, four cities have officially declared their candidacy. Istanbul, Rome, Madrid and Tokyo, all recent losing bidders, have tossed in their hats. Doha and Durban may also do so before the Sept. 1 cutoff date.
Though there had been talk of a U.S. candidate city, there has been no domestic bidding process such as the one in which New York and Chicago were chosen as candidates for the last two Summer Games. The USOC has also expressed an interest in resolving its impasse with the IOC over revenue sharing before attempting to bid for another Olympics. The two sides have made some progress to that end and a bid for the 2022 Winter Games, particularly from a place such as Denver, would seem a more likely option.