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US triathlon gold has Australian influence

An American accountant and a New Zealander walked into a Wollongong pizzeria.

Four years later, Gwen Jorgensen's decision to seek out Jamie Turner as a coach was rewarded with the first US Olympic triathlon gold medal.

Australia's record Olympic medal streak in the sport ended on Saturday at Fort Copacabana, but there was still a strong down under influence as Jorgensen beat Swiss Nicola Spirig.

Jorgensen spends five months of the year training with Turner's famed Wollongong Wizards squad.

Spirig's coach is Australian Brett Sutton, a maverick figure in the sport.

After finishing 38th at the London Olympics, Jorgensen sought out Turner, a New Zealander who has coached swimming and triathlon in Wollongong since 1995.

Turner conducted what he calls LSD - look, search and discover - to see if he and Jorgensen could work together.

"I'd be more interested in an athlete who had the discipline to make their bed every morning, rather than someone who's run X-time for three kilometres," said Turner.

The accountant and the Kiwi soon decided they liked the cut of each other's cloth.

Jorgensen lives for five months each year in a converted North Wollongong garage with the Allen family.

She said her gold would not have happened without the Wizards.

"I'm a better athlete, for sure, 100 per cent, because of them," Jorgensen said.

"I'm 30, I'm definitely grandma in the group - Patrick (her husband) and I are called grandma and grandpa because we always go to bed early.

"I feel younger because of them."

Jorgensen calls Turner the best triathlon coach in the world and eight of his squad competed in Rio, including Australian top-10 pair Aaron Royle and Ryan Bailie.

But never suggest to Jorgensen or Turner that the American has made sacrifices.

"We don't make sacrifices - athletes make investments," Turner said.

"One of the things that she'll perhaps pat me on the back for is for teaching her that these things are not sacrifices."

The accountant's investing reaped massive dividends.

Between 2014 and earlier this year Jorgensen had a record 13-race winning streak, dubbed "Gwensanity", that made her the woman to beat in Rio.

Jorgensen thrived under the pressure and had a storming race.

Spirig, the London Olympics gold medallist, also impressed after crashing in March and needing hand surgery.

There were mind games as they shared the lead on the run, with each telling the other to take a turn into a headwind.

Spirig told Jorgensen the American should do the work, given she already had an Olympic medal.

"Fair enough - she now has two and I still only have one," Jorgensen said.

She pulled clear to beat Spirig by 40 seconds, with Vicky Holland from Great Britain taking the bronze five seconds later.

Beijing bronze medallist Emma Moffatt led the Australians with sixth, while London bronze medallist Erin Densham overcame a difficult four years to take 12th.

Ashleigh Gentle lost touch with the front group in the swim and finished 26th in her Olympic debut.