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Go, Gwen, Go: A Family's Journey to Olympic Gold

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Narrated in alternating voices by mother Nancy and sister Elizabeth, Go, Gwen, Go: A Midwest Family's Journey to Olympic Gold is an inspiring story about Olympian Gwen Jorgensen and her family. This memoir introduces readers to a young woman of modest athletic achievements who uses desire and discipline to attain the ultimate in sport--the Olympic gold. Readers will enter the secret world of Olympic training, professional coaching, international travel, sponsor funding, anti-doping requirements, athlete nutrition, and sports physiotherapy. This book will take them inside the personal life of a professional athlete, complete with family crises and holiday celebrations. In this inspiring story, Gwen Jorgensen and her family grow together, from average to Olympian.

300 pages, Hardcover

Published October 18, 2019

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About the author

Nancy Smirl Jorgensen

4 books7 followers
Nancy Jorgensen earned a Bachelor of Music from Alverno College and a Master of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A high school choir director for many years, she is the co-author of two music education books, "Things They Never Taught You in Choral Methods" and "From the Trenches: Real Insights from Real Choral Educators". She is also the author of several essays and an Olympic blog published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Her most recent book, "Go, Gwen, Go: A Family's Journey to Olympic Gold," was co-authored with daughter Elizabeth and published by Meyer & Meyer Sport.

Nancy and her husband, Joel, have two daughters. Older daughter Elizabeth Jorgensen teaches Creative Writing, Composition, and Journalism at Arrowhead High School. Younger daughter, Gwen Jorgensen, is an All-American runner, triathlete, 2012 and 2016 Olympian, and CPA.

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5 stars
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8 (14%)
3 stars
6 (11%)
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1 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Liza Wiemer.
Author 5 books655 followers
November 27, 2020
I loved this mother-daughters memoir written by Liz (daughter) and Nancy (mom) about sister/daughter Gwen's quest for Olympic gold in the women's triathlon. The alternating POVs held my attention. It's a beautiful story of family coming together in a loving, supportive way, cheering on the humble Gwen. There's heartbreak, romance, pain, failures, glory! I teared up a number of times.

This is an inspiring story and a window into a world few of us will ever experience. One thing is for sure, Liz, Nancy, and Gwen's quest and success will stay with me for a very long time. Brava!
98 reviews
January 31, 2020
Unlike most biographies of athletes, this journey to Olympic Gold is told from the point of view of the family. Coauthored by the mother and sister of Gwen Jorgensen, this memoir recounts Gwen's journey from average child athlete to becoming the first American triathlete, man or woman, to win an Olympic Gold medal. We experience Gwen's fears, failures and successes through the eyes of those who love her, and on the way glimpse the sacrifices it takes to reach the top. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves sports, family, or just a feel good story.
4 reviews
February 21, 2020
Elizabeth and Nancy's heartfelt humor and candid commentary made me laugh, cry, get chills, and keep reading. Although I read the news and followed Gwen's journey online, it doesn't compare to the journey described in the novel.

Profile Image for Julie Schroeder .
63 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2019
This book truly had it all; behind the scenes for the life of an Olympian and heartfelt family storytelling. Each page excited me, and I felt like the tension from the races permeated through the pages, even though I personally had very little knowledge about the sport of triathlon. This story is truly inspirational, inspiring you to not shy away from the scariest of goals, inspiring you to see the potential in others, and inspiring you to be the best mother, sister, husband, or whatever your role in a relationship might be. I am excited to follow Gwen’s professional career after learning more about her journey!
March 28, 2020
Those of us who park ourselves in front of the TV during Olympic coverage do this to not only watch athletes in action, but to also hear the stories behind each athlete. Go, Gwen, Go is a wonderful mother and sister’s perspective along Gwen Jorgensen’s Olympic Gold medal journey, making it a unique treat that the public rarely gets to read in such detail. And- I felt like I was along for the ride with their family.
I loved this book!
Profile Image for Walter Rhein.
Author 15 books64 followers
November 30, 2020
I thought this was a wonderful book. It follows the journey of Olympic triathlete Gwen Jorgensen on her way to winning a gold medal at the 2016 summer games. I'd heard of her before reading this book, but I didn't realize how much of a stunningly dominant athlete she is. The race reports are wonderful because Jorgensen was especially strong on the final running leg, which made all of her races feel like come from behind victories.

Unlike other athlete profiles, this book is written by Gwen's mother and sister. I really appreciated the family perspective that this narrative strategy offered. This is a much more intimate book than we would have received if it had been written by a sportswriter. Elizabeth and Nancy manage to share all the love and pride they feel for Gwen, without ever encroaching on the spotlight themselves. Reading this book makes you wish you'd grown up in the Jorgensen household. Both Elizabeth and Nancy are excellent writers and this book is polished and hard to put down.

If you have a young athlete in your life, this book would make an inspiring gift.
Profile Image for b.andherbooks.
2,054 reviews872 followers
February 5, 2020
I had a mighty struggle getting through this book. I found the alternating voices of the mother and sister of Olympian Gold Medalist Gwen Jorgensen distracting and often repetitive. Why not edit these narratives together into a cohesive memoir? I especially did not care for the sister's portions, as they were full of purple prose and unnecessary personal details.

But then again, who was the intended audience for this book? I as a non-Olympian, non-athlete found myself struggling through the jargon, the over abundant descriptions of watching Gwen's races, their thoughts about how sad it was that Gwen couldn't enjoy the family time they had because she was so consumed with her sport and competing.

Is this story helpful to actual athletes either? I'm not sure. Gwen as a person and competitor still feels like a stranger to me, the reader. Sure, her story can be seen as inspirational, but honestly the belief Gwen is just a "normal" person who succeeded even though she was "not exceptional" feels disingenuous. Gwen is a wealthy, white woman who was exceptional for her hard work ethic and privileged for the opportunities she was given the chance to take. Most people would not have the same chances.

I feel like this book is a project her family very much wanted to do, regardless of Gwen's feelings on the subject. There may be niche interest due to the upcoming 2020 Olympics but it isn't clear Jorgensen will even be competing. I checked today and she's not competing in the triathlon, has dropped out of the Olympic marathon, and is instead focusing on the 10,000k track event.

Basically, a family's vanity project with some casual insight in to being related to an Olympian athlete. I'd much rather have read Gwen's own memoir.
1 review
November 6, 2019
Excellent! Even though I knew Gwen would win, the story telling was so exciting. Highly recommend.
1 review
November 30, 2020
I am a huge fan of Olympic sports and was already familiar with Gwen Jorgensen’s journey before reading this book. I also have purchased and read countless other Olympian’s books. Typically, Olympian books/memoirs are written by a guest author and are very scripted, politically correct, and have the overall fluffy message of “follow your dreams”. While those other books are nice stories, there isn’t typically much substance. I was excited for this book, as it was actually written by Gwen’s mother and sister. Nancy and Elizabeth are both very different in their personalities and writing styles, so combined into one book it really kept things interesting. I found myself unable to put the book down, always wanting to hear the other’s perspective, too. Nancy is the practical, cautious, and loving mother. Elizabeth is the outgoing “biggest fan” sister. They narrate Gwen’s 6+ year journey in triathlon with great detail and honesty. This is also the type of book you could re-read and notice new details each time. Or you could watch or re-watch one of Gwen’s races and read Nancy and Elizabeth’s perspectives along with it. They did an excellent job in considering many different audiences when writing this book. Each person from elite athlete to armchair athlete can take something away from this family’s journey.
2 reviews1 follower
November 30, 2020
This is a book will entertain you while also uplift and inspire you. This memoir is uniquely told from the perspective of the mother and sister of the greatest triathlete of all time, Gwen Jorgensen. Go, Gwen, Go is a book about unwavering family support and each reader will get something different from the book: triathlon fans will be able to re-live races and learn more about Gwen and her competitors and what it takes to be the world and Olympic champion; parents will pick up parenting tips; fans interested in Olympics or sports will learn more about the life of a professional athlete. I 100% recommend.
1 review
November 30, 2020
There are many books about an athlete’s journey to success, but few books I’ve seen from the family’s perspective. This unique perspective was the best aspect of the book. It was highly engaging throughout as I learned about the sport of triathlon, something I didn’t know much about. Even though I knew how the story would end, I was excited to read each chapter and piece together how Gwen went from a newbie in the triathlon, to a world and Olympic champion. I highly recommend “Go Gwen Go” for anyone who enjoys stories of hard work, dedication and success.
December 1, 2020
A compelling story that shows incredible dedication, strength, and achievement. A wonderful story about a family bond and unwavering support. I truly enjoyed every word of this story. I thought that the racing scenes made you feel a part of the race, like you were actually there! And the stories and events showing the family bonds were very touching! Loved it very much!
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,234 reviews69 followers
October 4, 2021
Let me preface my (partial) review with some praise for the authors. It takes a lot to write a book, especially a biographical work like this, and I respect that. Plus, athletes are tough subjects, so often of fleeting fame. So, while I didn't finish the book, I hope to review it in a way that does no insult to the subject or the mother/sister team that documented her achievements.

DNF at 12% (ish). I finished the first chapter, then read the epilogue and last two entries in the final chapter.

I wish I could recall the circumstances that recommended this book to me. I think, because of some fleeting memories and because Ms. Jorgensen (Elizabeth) is among my GR followers, that I got a either a mail, or a comment on a review, or maybe even a recommendation, suggesting that Go, Gwen, Go: A Family's Journey to Olympic Gold would appeal to me. Now, I'm not a fan of unsolicited recommendations, primary or secondary, on goodreads. But this one caught me in a mood to listen, so I recall adding this book to my list.

I like a good athletic success story, so this should have appealed to me. The problem, however, is that the authors have taken a good, baseline story of challenge and success, and taken turns telling it from their viewpoints, including several repetitions of the same tales in the first chapter alone. So what we have here is not so much a biography as it is a family history "vanity" work, a documentation of Gwen Jorgensen's triathlon career that isn;'t for the reader's inspiration.

Or at least, not mine.

Good luck to the Jorgensens, but I have to set this book down.
Profile Image for Emily.
25 reviews1 follower
December 14, 2020
Go, Gwen, Go tells a bigger story than just that of an Olympic gold medalist. It tells the story of a typical family and the ordinary and extraordinary moments that shape their lives and lead to Gwen's success. As a reader, you feel as if you have a seat at the Jorgensen's dinner table as well as in bleachers at each intense race. This book is inspirational and a tribute to loving and supportive families.
2 reviews1 follower
December 1, 2020
I was interested in this book because I am a Wisconsinite and Gwen Jorgensen fan. This book provided Gwen's family's view of how she won the gold medal. It's a positive story--one that inspired me to want to get out there and be active. Even if you don't know about Gwen or the triathlon (or if you already know how the story ends), this book will keep you engaged because it's a quick, positive read told from three unique perspectives (mom, sister and Gwen). I really recommend this book for both the parents of athletes and young athletes themselves.
Profile Image for Colleen Fullhart.
3 reviews1 follower
November 30, 2020
If you want to be inspired and uplifted in this challenging time, read Go Gwen Go!! It is also fun and informative - I haven't enjoyed a book that much in a looooong time!!!
Profile Image for Grant Kaminer.
18 reviews4 followers
April 26, 2022
Had the chance to meet the Jorgensens at the Trials back over the summer. Incredibly nice people and Elizabeth herself is an amazing person to talk all things running with. Gwen is one of my favorite athletes to follow and I’m wishing her all the luck in the world.
Profile Image for Jim Landwehr.
Author 14 books17 followers
December 23, 2020
An amazing story showing how the support, encouragement and love of family can propel a daughter/sister to an Olympic dream.
52 reviews
April 30, 2020
Mainly interesting to me because this family is from my hometown. Told in two voices which is sometimes confusing, it painted a picture of a very supportive family around a focused athlete, but the description of Gwen makes her seem cold and distant.
Profile Image for Valerie Biel.
Author 6 books64 followers
May 10, 2022
Even though we know that Gwen Jorgensen earns USA’s first Olympic gold medal in the triathlon at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the story remains suspenseful as we follow her journey from the first days of her triathlon training through the highs and lows until her Olympic achievement. This book is a fabulous read for anyone who appreciates the discipline, diligence, and fortitude it takes to excel at any sport or activity. Wonderful book for aspiring athletes. Very well-written with a fun format that alternates between Gwen's sister Elizabeth and her mother Nancy along with texts and emails directly from Gwen.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

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