When Jorgensen decided to become a triathlete at the age of 23, she had never even been on a road bike. Still, while in college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she made the swim, track, and cross-country teams as a walk-on and became an all-American runner.
Jorgensen smoothed out her ability to unclip from her pedals, stopped falling over at stop signs, and, she says, “realized I had potential.”
After qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London, Jorgensen left her job as an accountant to train full-time. Though a mid-race flat kept her off the podium, she would go on to 16 ITU World Triathlon wins since 2013 (14 of them in a row). In 2015, she became the first American to win back-to-back world championships. This summer, Jorgensen is the favorite for a triathlon gold medal, a prize no American has won. “She’s the best female runner our sport has ever seen,” says former Olympic triathlete Barb Lindquist. “And I don’t think we’ve seen the best of her yet.”