Close-up of the American Flag

It’s official: CPAs can do anything.

Gwen Jorgensen proved that on Aug. 20 when she swam, biked, and ran her way to an Olympic gold medal in the women’s triathlon at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Jorgensen crossed the finish line in one hour, 56 minutes, 16 seconds, a full 40 seconds ahead of silver medalist Nicola Sprig Hug of Switzerland.

Jorgensen, 30, earned a master’s degree in accounting at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, then passed the CPA exam and joined Ernst & Young in 2010 as a tax accountant.

That gig didn’t last long.

Shortly after she joined EY, Jorgensen was contacted by USA Triathlon, which was tracking down former collegiate swimmers and runners and encouraging them to take up the sport. She left the firm and began training full time, and a year later finished second in the World Championship Series in London to earn a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic triathlon team. A flat tire during the biking event at the London Olympics left Jorgensen crossing the finish line in 38th place — and vowing to do better in Rio.

In the years after London, Jorgensen vaulted to the top of the sport, winning an astonishing 13 consecutive World Triathlon Series races at one point. She came to Rio as one of the favorites to win gold, and she didn’t disappoint, earning the United States’ first Olympic triathlon gold medal.

“I’ve said for four years that this was my goal,” Jorgensen told ESPN. “I wanted to cross that line, I wanted to get a gold medal. It’s pretty incredible that I was actually able to do it. Four years comes down to one day. To be able to perform on the day is something pretty amazing.”

Loading