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What did Gwen Jorgensen and Nicola Spirig say to each other on the Rio triathlon course?

In one of the most exciting triathlons we’ve seen since the photo finish of the London 2012 women’s race, defending Olympic gold medallist Nicola Spirig and gold-medal favourite Gwen Jorgensen held the lead for the majority of the race before it came down to a few words between the two on the run course, and Jorgensen taking off to win gold.

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As uber-cyclist Spirig pulled the lead group for the majority of the bike course, Jorgensen took the lead once or twice but seemed content to sit back and save herself for the run. Throughout the course, Spirig could be seen speaking to the women behind her several times, appearing to ask them to step and pull, though was rarely successful.

Spirig speaking to Jorgensen (orange helmet) behind her
Spirig (leading) speaking to Jorgensen (orange helmet) behind her

After T2, Spirig and Jorgensen took the early lead into the run and hung together for the majority of the course. But again, the two could be seen exchanging words and playing mind games with each other, weaving across the blue carpet and refusing to give in to the other.

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So what exactly were they saying?

In a post-race interview, Jorgensen told reporters Spirig reminded her, “I have a gold medal and you don’t.”

“She did – and that was totally valid,” the American added. “I’ve now got one – and she’s got two.”

According to Spirig, she was getting just as fed up with Jorgensen’s tactics as it appeared to spectators.

“She was leading first and then she left me in front and I was leading in the headwind.

“There was a bit of mind games. In the third lap nobody wanted to lead. I said, ‘Come on, Gwen’, but she said, ‘I was leading before’, and I said, ‘I already have a medal, so it’s basically you that has to work.’ It was just mental games. In the end she was stronger and faster.”

Ultimately, Jorgensen’s tactics paid off as the 30-year-old took her first Olympic gold. She is now not only an Olympic and world champion, but also holds the record for most consecutive WTS wins on the circuit.