September 02, 2012

Spain's Javier Gomez and Sweden's Lisa Norden would trade a triathlon win in Des Moines for the gold medal that eluded them in London without thinking twice.

Still, bringing home the sport's most lucrative purse is much more than a consolation prize.

London Games silver medalists Gomez and Norden won the 5150 U.S. Championship Elite Cup triathlon on Sunday.

Gomez and Norden each earned just over $150,000, the biggest prizes in international triathlon competition.

Gomez fought through temperatures in the high 80s to beat American Hunter Kemper by 38 seconds, while London Games winner Alistair Brownlee was 14th.

Norden upset favored American Sarah Haskins to win the Des Moines event for the second year in a row.

"That was the key to the race. Try to fight against the heat," Gomez said.

Gomez fell to Brownlee in his native Britain by 11 seconds. But he and Kemper were tied entering the final run portion of the race, and each blew past leader and defending champion Greg Bennett early in the run.

Gomez quickly got separation from Kemper and had enough of a cushion to stop mere feet from the finish line and salute the crowd.

Haskins barely missed out a spot in the Olympics, but she had posted four straight wins in 2012 in Texas, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Chicago and was the favorite to win Sunday.

Haskins was the only swimmer to complete both laps in less than 20 minutes. But what had been a sizable lead dwindled to just 16 seconds as she transitioned from the bike to the run, and Norden passed her by two seconds after the first of four laps.

Norden didn't take the lead until the final lap in winning in 2011. But her lead over Haskins was 26 seconds heading into the final lap on Sunday, and Norden played it safe in denying Haskins her sixth win in seven events in 2012.

"It was very warm out there. I just had to look after myself and not do anything stupid," Norden said.

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Nicola Spirig of Switzerland was expected to be in the field, but she skipped the event to get some rest.

Spirig was awarded the gold in London even though she crossed in 1:59:48, the same time as Norden.

Norden has been run a bit ragged since London as well, and she hasn't been able to train as much as she would like. But Norden came back to win last weekend in Stockholm, and she didn't do anything this week in hopes that she'd have enough energy to compete in Des Moines.

"I was very insecure going into the run," Norden said. "I started this race not knowing if I'd be able to finish or if my body was going to hold on for just another race. And it did."

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