Beginning at 9 a.m. London time on Saturday, 55 women will chase Olympic gold in the women’s Triathlon. They will swim 1,500 meters, bike 40 kilometers and run 10,000 meters.
Emma Snowsill of Australia won the Olympic women’s triathlon at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in impressive fashion, finishing more than a minute ahead of the field.
British star Helen Jenkins is one of the favorites heading into London this summer. She is the 2008 and 2011 world champion and has had 10 podium finishes since 2009, including her win at the London test event.
But we will be routing for the U.S. team, of course. Not just because we have pride in our county’s athletes, but also because one of the woman participating has a local connection.
Sarah Groff, who earned her spot on Team USA by finishing seventh at the Olympic test event in London, grew up in Cooperstown. She attended Cooperstown Central School through her sophomore year. She graduated in 1999 from Deerfield Academy, a boarding school in Deerfield, Mass., and then attended Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating in 2003.
Groff started swimming with the Clark Sharks and continued swimming through high school and college. She also ran cross country.
The tri-athlete said she couldn’t choose between competitive swimming and running and therefore decided to compete in triathlons to compete in both sports. She had begun cycling at Deerfield. Swimming, cycling and running are the three components of the triathlon and Groff started competing in triathlons in 1996. Within a few years, she was placing in races and becoming a world class triathlete. In 2008, Groff missed qualifying for the Olympics by two spots.
Groff and her teammate, Gwen Jorgensen, were the first American athletes to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. The U.S. team is composed of Groff, who ended 2011 ranked No. 3; Jorgensen, who competed in her first triathlon in March 2010 before finishing as the runner-up at the London test event, and 2008 fourth-place finisher Laura Bennett.
Getting to the Olympic Games is not easy task for any athlete. Groff certainly had her own hurdles to overcome.
In early 2010, Groff fractured her sacrum in a bike accident. She continued training and refractured it during a race in Kenya in November 2010. She had to relearn how to run, and continue to train through her injuries. Only 10 months later, she qualified for the Olympics.
According to Groff’s mother, Jeannine, her daughter trains eight months a year, away from her family and her boyfriend.
“She spent Christmas in Australia training,” she said. “She has missed weddings, birthdays and holidays, because that’s part of the job.”
We hope all the hard work and dedication pays off.
Good luck, Sarah Groff!