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SPORT - INTERVIEW

Interview with Gwen Jorgensen, Olympic Gold Medalist and Two-time World Champion Professional Triathlete

The Olympic gold medal has always been the greatest success for athletes. One chance every four years, you have to be perfect to win. I had the chance to interview Gwen Jorgensen, who has lived this Olympic pride, about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in triathlon.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

SPORT - INTERVIEW

by Meryem Aksoy

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Every athlete wants to be a national champion, but very few of them can achieve this. Much fewer athletes can be won gold medals in the Olympics or world championships. Gwen Jorgensen is one of them. In 2010, she became a professional triathlete, and only a year later she qualified for the Olympics. She won national championships, ITU World Triathlon Series races, and selected as Triathlete of the Year in the US. She crowned her career with these achievements, but Olympic gold medal she won in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the 2014 and 2015 World Championships victories became the most valuable pieces in her crown. All through her professional career, she signed sponsorship agreements with different brands and created the opportunities to continue her career successfully. I had the chance to interview Gwen Jorgensen about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in triathlon.

Patrick Lemieux and Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Patrick Lemieux, Gwen Jorgensen and Stanley - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen, I would like to learn more about your life besides your professional career, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Gwen Jorgensen?

I am a mother and wife. I love being able to spend time with my family and enjoy trying new foods.

You have a successful college career in swimming and track. When did you decide to dedicate yourself fully to Triathlon?

I was recruited into the sport of triathlon in 2010.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

When did you decide to be a professional triathlete? Could you tell us about your triathlon career?

I decided to be a professional triathlete in 2010. I qualified for my first Olympics in 2011 and competed in London 2012 Olympics where I had a flat tire on the bike. I then came back four years later to win gold in Rio 2016.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

You have decorated your career with gold medals you won in many national and international competitions, including the World Championships and Winter Olympic Games. I know it is a very long list but could you tell us about your achievements?

- 2016 Olympic Champion
- 2015 World Champion
- 2014 World Champion
- 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Member
- 2013 USA Triathlon's Triathlete of the Year
- 2014 USA Triathlon's Triathlete of the Year
- 2015 USA Elite National Champion
- 2014 USA Elite National Champion
- 2013 USAT Elite National Champion (Sprint and Olympic Distance)
- First USA Woman to win a World Triathlon Series race
- 17-time ITU World Triathlon Series Winner
- 2010 USAT Rookie of the Year
- 2010 USAT Elite Duathlete of the Year

What was the most unforgettable moment in your career?

Winning Olympic Gold. This was a race that I trained for over four years. I was very clear that my goal was to win gold in Rio. I had an amazing team behind me that supported me the entire way.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

What does triathlon mean for you?

Triathlon is a balancing act of three different disciplines. It has taught me hard work, dedication, and persistence in things I love and things I dislike. My aim was to wake up and be average everyday. I knew that consistency was the key to my success.

Triathlon is not like any other individual sport, you are competing in three different branches. Therefore, you need three times more equipment than an athlete. Compared to other sports, should triathletes have to find more sponsors to continue their careers?

Triathletes have the opportunity to have more than one sponsor. This allows the athlete to partner with brands that they feel are the best to help them achieve their goals. I loved being able to partner with many sponsors such as The Island House, Polar, TrainingPeaks, Specialized, Nike, Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs, and SleepNumber beds.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

We are facing financial problems at every moment of our lives. What are the main expenses of a triathlete throughout the year? How could triathletes finance this expenses? What is the permanent solution?

Doing triathlons cost money. It has an expensive barrier to entry, unlike something like running where all you need is a pair of shoes. For a triathlon, you need to purchase a wetsuit, swimming gear, a bicycle and gear, and run gear. I suggest looking for used bikes to get a good deal and then purchasing the other items on a needs basis depending on which races you choose to do.

What is the best way to attract sponsors' attention?

For me, the best way has been to tell an authentic story and convey who exactly I am. I worked hard to tell everyone my goals in triathlon and running. My hope is that I have encouraged others to project their goals as well.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

What contributions do sponsor brands provide triathletes?

Sponsors provide athletes with a means to do their job. They also provide athletes with products to swim, bike, and run. Sponsors are also able to help build a partnership and brand with the athlete. Our goal as athletes working with sponsors is always to boost sales.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

How do you make your sponsors' brands visible throughout the season?

I love partnering with brands that I am passionate about. These are things that I use in my daily life. These items (such as Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs) are then seen through my social media channels. It is authentic and I have a lot of people who tell me they purchase items because I use them. I also am able to share personally with my friends and family and people I meet the items I love and why I love them. Every time someone comments on my commuter bike (Specialized Vado Turbo) I can't stop talking about why I love the bike so much!

What do sponsors expect and demand from triathletes?

Every partnership with a sponsor is different an unique. What I expect is authenticity throughout the partnership.

In your career, when did you first attract sponsors' attention? How did you do this?

I began to have some success leading into the 2012 Olympics and as brands were solidifying their Olympic athlete plans I began to build my sponsorship portfolio.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Could you tell us about your sponsors? What are the brands that you collaborate with?

The Island House, Polar, TrainingPeaks, Specialized, Nike, Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs, SleepNumber, and Skratch Labs.

How many different platforms do you represent your sponsors throughout the year?

I am active on social media and in interviews throughout the year mentioning my partners. I use YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

What are your expectations from your sponsors?

I look for brands that are hungry to innovate and strive to be the best.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

What are you paying attention to when a new brand contacted you about sponsorship?

The first thing I ask if I am contacted by a potential sponsor is for them to send me the product to test out. The most important thing is for me to love and use the product they would like endorsed.

What are the main factors that affect the beginning and continuity of successful sponsorship?

There has to be a fit between the brand and the athlete. The athlete must genuinely love the product.

If you had a chance to speak on behalf of all professional triathletes at a meeting with brands, what would you say them for convincing these brands to sponsor triathletes?

Make your platform clear about how you can help a brand. Putting their name on the suit is not enough.

Do you have any advice for triathletes who want to pursue a professional career?

Have fun and enjoy the process.

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

Gwen Jorgensen - Photography courtesy of Talbot Cox

What do you think about social media? How did it affect the popularity of triathlon?

Social media is a great way to communicate with fans and to inspire others. I have found this is a great way to create emotion between myself and fans.

How can our readers follow you?

I am on Twitter and Instagram with the handle @gwenjorgensen and I also have a Facebook Page (Gwen Jorgensen) and a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/gwenjorgensen)

What is next for you?

I am currently preparing for the Marathon Olympic Trials. I train with the Nike Bowerman Track Club in Portland, OR

Thank you Gwen for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Gwen Jorgensen





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