Olympic Medals

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I was texting Pat Lemieux yesterday, after his wife, Gwen Jorgensen, won the triathlon yesterday. I told him that I thought it was crazy how their “destiny” can be changed so drastically from the results of one sporting event.  It almost doesn’t seem right, but for sure, it is true.

I personally don’t know that many people that have won the Olympics.  Nearly everyone I know that has a Olympic medal is a cyclist.  Well, that isn’t exactly true.  I do know Michellie Jones, who won a silver medal in triathlon in Sydney.  I felt bad for her, losing that race by just a couple seconds.

Of course I know all the people that won medals in Los Angeles.  We had 4 riders on our Levis team that won medals.   Those were Connie Carpenter, that won the women’s road race, Steve Hegg, Gold in pursuit, Nelson Vails, SIlver in Sprint, then Roy Knickman, who won bronze in TTT. There were lots of other medals won by American riders too, with Mark Gorski, etc.

But I’m not sure that I actually held a medal other than Roy’s bronze. Roy used to have a glass medal vase and all his medals were just in there.  You could stick you hand into the vase and pull a medal out and it would always be amazing.  Junior World Championship medal, National Championship medal, Olympic medal.  It is crazy his career results.   I must have seen Steve Hegg’s medal, but I can’t remember holding it.  Same with Nelson’s medal.

Like I said above, an Olympic medal is a life changing deal.  Especially a Gold medal.  Gwen will be defined from now on by being an Olympic Champion.  It isn’t a bad thing.   It is funny how just one race is more important than all the rest of the races she has won, combined.  This one result will open doors that would normally be closed to normal folks.  Closed, locked, key thrown away to us.  That is the way the world works.

I have told a ton of people, that if I were super rich, I would collect Olympic medals.  I’d try to collect three medals, Gold, Silver, Bronze, from each Olympic games since their conception. Back when the Iron Curtain was up, those medals would have been a lot cheaper.  Now they are pretty pricey.  I check on eBay every once in a while and see the random Olympic bronze medal out there.  Like a Cuban baseball medal or something.  They are usually pretty beat, no ribbon, scratched up and cost somewhere over 15K.

Anyway, I hope to see Gwen’s medal sometime soon.  Pat said Gwen’s season is most likely over now.  I bet not, but wouldn’t put money on it.  I hope it is.  Then I’ll get to ride some with Pat. They both deserve some rest.  They have put so much effort and time into yesterday, I’m sure it felt as much as a relief as an accomplishment.

I have this poster in the stairway going to my basement.

I have this poster in the stairway going to my basement.

Gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen.

Gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen.


Tucker feels much better today.

Tucker feels much better today.


19 thoughts on “Olympic Medals

  1. Craig

    Many of your comments I get, some I don’t but that is just a difference of opinion. This one is so beyond me and what I thought you held dear. Why would you want to buy Olympic medals… a guy like you who cherishes the fight and winning by his own effort … I would love to see a collection of them in a museum or something but to me the only value one of those medals has is the winning of it …

    Not judging just kind of shocked to see you write that … women’s XC was a decent race yesterday.

  2. Steve Tilford Post author

    Craig – If I were a collector, I’d be really interested in collecting these medals. The event has been going on for over a century and most of the medal winners aren’t alive anymore. I would love a tug-of-war medal from the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis. I value Olympic medals and it has nothing to do with whether I won them or not.

  3. RGTR

    I feel a little differently about the Olympics vs. Worlds when it comes to the big boys. I don’t care one damn bit who won the Olympics RR and already don’t even remember who won it. But Sagans wearing of the Worlds stripes all year is something to behold.

  4. Fausto

    Agree on the importance of the medal to the general public perception. To a tri-athlete, I am sure winning in Hawaii is the pinnacle of the sport, but to the everyman, who cares. A gold medal is a universal language.

  5. Jake

    Not every triathlete wants to go to Kona. Gwen has said she doesn’t want to do an ironman. Comparing the triathletes who race WTS events vs ironman events is like comparing crit riders to grant tour riders.

  6. The Padre

    I am fortunate in that my brother traveled to Rio as a spectator. Side Note; He started attending the games in 84 as we lived in sunny San Diego at that time. The Brazilian pride is what he spoke of the most. The fact that Brazil opened its doors & allowed the world to party, play, & become one with their surroundings. Because the dollar is so cheap, $13 american dollars were handed over to a taxi driver, a guided tour of the historical culture through the eyes of others became the normalcy. Could you imagine hanging out in a local establishment & witnessing the host country men win the beach volleyball match??? He Did, lives to tell the tale.

    Been following along your journeys Steve & remember your “visit” with Gwen & lake swims. I had never heard of her or her story but now had a new whole persecutive during this event of the Summer Games. Again, streets lined with locals. WoW & Thanx for that.

    Tucker living the dream again brings smiles!! What A Poser.

  7. Jon Paulos


    I come to reading your blog late, just starting this spring. I like your writing and I have to confess I like seeing the photos/updates about Tucker.

    About collecting, to each his own I guess. I’ve saved all my helmets over the years, from my Kucharik hairnet and Trottshelm, up through the most recent discarded one, a Giro Aeolus. My wife rolls her eyes when she sees them, but oh well. As long as your possessions don’t own you, go for it.

  8. Jerome West

    An honest question:

    I really have no idea what opportunities are available after winning a gold medal. In the 5 or 6 commercialized Olympic sports such as tennis, golf or cycling the benefits are obvious: endorsements, increased player contract values, increased value in the athletes brand, etc. But for a less commercial sport such as Triathlon or Shooting, which constitute the majority of the events, what does a medal actually buy you?

    I imagine for some of the rowers or swimmers they might get a job offer from a prestigious firm like McKinsey or Goldman, but it seems like half of those folks went to UCAL or Stanford anyway.

  9. Steve Tilford Post author

    Jerome – Triathletes are a affluent bunch of athletes. And Gwen is special, in that she is very pretty and well spoken, not that other Olympic Gold medalists aren’t. She used to work for the accounting firm Ernst & Young. Now she is paid more to give speeches for them than she was getting paid working full time. She is going to be raking in the endorsements. Here is a link to her sponsor page. (http://www.gwenjorgensen.com/sponsors/) That is only going to get bigger.


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