Jamie Turner is Gwen Jorgensen's coach. Gwen has spent the last 4 years, after a dispiriting Olympic race in London, focused on the goal she achieved in Rio. I talked to Jamie by Skype just a few hours after Gwen's Olympic achievement.
Jamie talks in terms of "investments" rather than "sacrifices" and you'll read this below. That way of thinking about a journey in sport has rubbed off on Gwen, who was quoted after her Rio win saying, "And for anyone that's been around me, they know how much my husband, Patrick, has invested... Just thinking about all the investments they [her husband and coach Jamie] have put into me."
SLOWTWITCH: Youíre a happy guy today.
JAMIE TURNER: Itís fantastic for Gwen. Iím very proud of her performance today.
ST: Who did you have in the race, all-told?
JT: I had 5 athletes. Besides Gwen, Zsůfia KovŠcs [HUN], Barbara Riveros [CHI], Sarah Anne Brault [CAN], Amelie Kretts [CAN].
ST: Barbara had a very good race. How did your athletes feel about their races?
JT: Barbara, sheís tenacious. Great salt water swimmer. She had a good race [finished 5th]. Some European countries are more developing, the athletes have aspirations more around placing in the top-25, Sophia achieved that marker [finished 24th]; sheís stoked.
ST: I looked at the results, there were only maybe 4 who swam slower than Gwen did who made that front bike pack. Gwen mustíve had a terrific transition and first few miles of the bike to be in that front pack, especially with a bullseye on her.
JT: Her T1 component was quite strong, there was a big run off the beach, but the swim exit was such a string, there were no breaks, and there were good athletes in front of her. During the first lap is when sheís the most vulnerable, but she withstood the challenges.
ST: She hung tough.
JT: It was a combo of a high tempo on the bike with the pressure on some people to attack, the onus on them to put it out there. Gwen was lucky, she had to defend what was coming, others had to do something they hadnít done before.
ST: Were you specifically focused on Nicola Spirig? Did you think the threat for the win was going to come from her?
JT: Every woman on the line is a threat. Nicola [Spirig] had a fantastic swim, she didnít have to chase, she rode tempo, the way she rides, she can ride tempo and rip hard turns. But Vicky Holland and the other girls arenít going to let her get up the road. The biggest threats were just doing what Gwen needed to do.
ST: Were you worried about the bike course itself?
JT: From a physical perspective, we conditioned for it last year, we were confident we were ready for what the course demanded; quite confident in Gwenís ability to handle the course. We invested a lot in descending, enabling her to grow her skills vocabulary and in riding downhills with confidence.
ST: Was the water in Rio, in Copacabana Beach, an overblown concern?
JT: We didnít get in the [open] water before the race. Not whether itís Rio, it's everywhere where youíre not confident in the water quality. Sheís swum in big surf, swells, in Wollongong [Jamie Turner's enclave's Australian base], Gwen has those skills.
ST: What now for you all? Triathlon doesnít stop now that Rioís over.
JT: Good question. Itís really hard to predict what an [American] Olympic Gold Medal triathlete has on his or her plate when returning to the States. Sheíll be full of opportunities, sheís got to make hay while the sun shines. Itís a fantastic opportunity for Gwen. Did we prepare for it? What is it worth in terms of opportunities presented? Itís hard to plan. Itíll be an exploration.
ST:What about for you and the rest of your crew?
JT: Weíre just getting ready for Worlds. The Grand Final. I go to Florida [Clermont, presumably] tomorrow night. Get ready for Cozumel.
ST: Anything I should be asking Iím not asking?
JT: Gwen showed great resilience today. She yielded a return on the investments sheís made. She's been savvy about what sheís invested in. [Jamie is speaking about her training and skills investments, not about money.] She sees things as investments instead of as sacrifices.
ST: Finally, what about that run? That was one interesting run to watch, looking more like the end of a bike race than a footrace. What did you expect? What had you planned for?
JT: Gwen is the most threatening person on the start line and had been for a couple of years. All the competitors have respect for her. She trained for this, sheís got a vocabulary of race options. For Gwen to go too early was silly. At 2k she just opened up the throttle!