Olympians Gwen Jorgensen, Laura Bennett among four triathletes to be inducted into USA Triathlon Hall of Fame

January 18, 2022

Age group multisport athletes Lesley Cens-McDowell and Robert Plant round out the four-member 11th class of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame. The inductees will be honored at a premier gala on Aug. 4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in conjunction with the Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen, two-time Olympian Laura Bennett and age group multisport athletes Lesley Cens-McDowell and Robert Plant today were announced as the 11th induction class of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame.

The USA Triathlon Hall Fame serves to recognize, honor and commemorate those individuals and groups who have demonstrated excellence in every aspect of multisport — thereby inspiring others to elevate their own performance, participation and community involvement. Founded in 2008, it has recognized the best performances and contributions in the sport’s nearly 50-year history. This year’s class brings the total number of inductees to 47.

“We are so excited to add these iconic athletes to the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame,” said Steve Sutherland, Chair of the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Executive Committee. “Gwen’s incredible rise to becoming an Olympic gold medalist is a story for the ages, Laura twice represented the U.S. at the Olympics and has given back to the multisport community following her professional career and Lesley and Robert’s age group performances throughout their long triathlon careers show us multisport is truly a lifelong sport. On top of their individual accomplishments, each of our inductees impart a love and passion for triathlon that continues to greatly influence the triathlon community.”

The four inductees will be honored at a premier gala hosted by the USA Triathlon Foundation on Thursday, Aug. 4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in conjunction with the 2022 Toyota USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships Aug. 6-7. The gala will be hosted at Discovery World, in the Roger & Judy Smith Family Pilot House, starting at 6:15 p.m. CT.

The festivities for the evening will include a VIP cocktail event, a Meet & Greet happy hour followed by a red carpet walk, dinner, presentation and awards and a silent auction. All proceeds from the gala benefit the USA Triathlon Foundation, which serves to generate a greater impact on the multisport community through charitable giveback and grants that advance the Foundation’s three pillars and further its mission to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run.

Individual tickets are $125 and tables for 10 are available for $1,000. VIP tables for eight and two VIP guests, as well as sponsorship opportunities, are available on a first come, first served basis. Please reach out Gabe Cagwin, President of the USA Triathlon Foundation and USA Triathlon Chief Advancement Officer, at gabe.cagwin@usatriathlon.org for more information.

To purchase tickets, and to learn more about the USA Triathlon Foundation and the individuals, organizations and programs it supports, visit usatriathlonfoundation.org.

About the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Class XI:

Gwen Jorgensen — Elite Athlete (Boulder, Colo.)

A Wisconsin native and an All-American track and cross-country runner for the University of Wisconsin, Jorgensen, 35, won the USA’s first Olympic gold medal in triathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, capping a stellar — and unlikely —triathlon career. After graduating with her accounting master’s degree and CPA license, Jorgensen hadn’t planned to pursue sport professionally and was working as an accountant at Ernst & Young in Milwaukee when she received a phone call from Barb Lindquist, founder of USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program, who noticed her running and swimming talent and urged her to compete in triathlon at the elite level. After learning the basics of the sport, Jorgensen earned her elite license in her first competitive triathlon. She went on to collect three podiums in her debut professional season — earning the title of 2010 USA Triathlon Rookie of the Year — and ultimately punched her ticket to the Olympic Games London 2012. She’d then go on to become the first woman to win a world title after a perfect undefeated World Triathlon Series season, to hold onto a 12-race World Triathlon Series winning streak, and to win the Olympic test event followed by a gold medal the following year at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Since she won gold at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Jorgensen has captivated fans of running, and in 2017, she announced she was pursuing a bold new goal: win an Olympic gold medal in the marathon.

Laura Bennett — Elite Athlete (Boulder, Colo.)

A two-time Olympian, Bennett, 46, took fourth at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and finished 17th at the London 2012 Olympic Games. A North Palm Beach, Florida, native, Bennett began competing in triathlons when she was 10 years old, and in 1994, was named USA Triathlon’s Junior Triathlete of the Year. She earned the silver medal at the 2003 World Triathlon Championships and a bronze in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Bennett was the U.S. team’s second alternate for the first Olympic Games triathlon in 2000 in Sydney and was the first alternate for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Bennett also competed on the IRONMAN 70.3 circuit, winning her IRONMAN 70.3 debut in 2009 in Augusta, Georgia, and followed that with a fifth place at the 2009 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. Bennett was named USA Triathlon’s Elite Female Triathlete of the Year in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. Today, she and her husband, Australian Olympic triathlete Greg Bennett, own and operate Bennett Endurance High Performance, based in Boulder, Colorado.

Lesley Cens-McDowell — Age Group Athlete (St. Petersburg, Fla.)

A longtime age-group triathlete, Cens-McDowell, 75, won seven national titles at USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships and she earned USA Triathlon Masters Triathlete of the Year honors in 1991. She also excelled in long-distance triathlon, earning 12 age group titles at the IRONMAN World Championship. Cens-McDowell spent many years living in Holualoa, Hawaii, and annually volunteered at the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona.

Robert Plant — Age Group Athlete (Woodside, Calif.)

Plant, 78, has won several USA Triathlon age group national titles including five Olympic-distance triathlon titles, two standard-distance duathlon (run-bike-run) titles and two aquathlon (swim-run) titles. He won Competitor Magazine’s Master’s Triathlete of the Year Award in 1998. For years, Plant has represented the age group Team USA at World Triathlon world championship events and is one of the most decorated age group multisport athletes in the world, having won more world medals across all the on-road multisport disciplines than any other athlete. Plant has also earned six age group podium finishes at the IRONMAN World Championships.

USA Triathlon Hall of Fame Inductees by Class:

Induction Class I (Induction ceremony held Jan. 17, 2009, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Judy Flannery (Age-Group Athlete)
Jon Gray Noll (Contributor)
Verne Scott (Contributor)
Karen Smyers (Elite Athlete)
Sheila Taormina (Elite Athlete)

Induction Class II (Induction ceremony held Feb. 13, 2010, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jim Curl (Contributor)
Barb Lindquist (Elite Athlete)
Paula Newby-Fraser (Elite Athlete)
Valerie Silk (Contributor)
Carl Thomas (Contributor)

Induction Class III (Induction ceremony held Jan. 15, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Susan Bradley-Cox (Age-Group Athlete)
Dave McGillivray (Contributor)
Dave Scott (Elite Athlete)

Induction Class IV (Induction ceremony held May 10, 2012, in San Diego)
Mark Allen (Elite Athlete)
Ethel Autorino (Age-Group Athlete)
Bob Babbitt (Contributor)
Sally Edwards (Contributor)
Scott Molina (Elite Athlete)
Scott Tinley (Elite Athlete)

Induction Class V (Induction ceremony held April 18, 2013, in San Diego)
Missy LeStrange (Age-Group Athlete)
Jim MacLaren (Contributor)
Julie Moss (Contributor)

Induction Class VI (Induction ceremony held June 26, 2014, in Chicago)
Sister Madonna Buder (Age-Group Athlete)
John and Judy Collins (Contributors)
Mike Pigg (Elite Athlete)
Tom Warren (Contributor)

Induction Class VII (Induction ceremony held April 18, 2015, in Boston)
Bill Bell (Age-Group Athlete)
Tim DeBoom (Elite Athlete)
Dan Empfield (Contributor)
Karen McKeachie (Age-Group Athlete)
Carlos Moleda (Age-Group Athlete)
Susan Williams (Elite Athlete)

Induction Class VIII (Induction ceremony held Jan. 16, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Harriet Anderson (Age-Group Athlete)
Roger Brockenbrough (Age-Group Athlete)
Ken Glah (Elite Athlete)
Siri Lindley (Elite Athlete)

Induction Class IX (Induction ceremony held Aug. 9, 2018, in Cleveland, Ohio)
Hunter Kemper (Elite Athlete)
Mike Reilly (Contributor)
Donna Smyers (Age-Group Athlete)
James Ward (Age-Group Athlete)

Induction Class X (induction ceremony held Jan. 25, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz.)
Cherie Gruenfeld (Contributor)
Dick and Rick Hoyt (Age-Group Athletes)
Mike Plant (Contributor)

Induction Class XI (induction ceremony to be held Aug. 4, 2022, in Milwaukee, Wis.)
Laura Bennett (Elite Athlete)
Lesley Cens-McDowell (Age Group Athlete)
Gwen Jorgensen (Elite Athlete)
Robert Plant (Age Group Athlete)

*Please note: Beginning in 2016, the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame induction ceremony shifted to a biennial schedule.

Visit usatriathlon.org/hof for additional information about USA Triathlon Hall of Fame, including all inductee bios.

About the USA Triathlon Foundation

The USA Triathlon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the charitable arm of USA Triathlon. With its mission to transform lives through sport by providing opportunities to swim, bike and run, the Foundation serves to generate a greater impact on the multisport community through charitable giveback and grants that advance the Foundation’s three pillars: (1) Encourage youth participation; (2) Inspire adaptive athletes; and (3) Ignite Olympic and Paralympic dreams. Since the Foundation was established in 2014, it has provided millions in grants to organizations and individuals in pursuit of its mission and pillars to create a healthier United States through triathlon. To learn more about the Foundation and get involved, please visit usatriathlonfoundation.org.

About USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon, paratriathlon, and indoor and virtual multisport events in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).


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