Silver medalist Sweden's Lisa Norden, left, and gold medalist Switzerland's… (Ben Stansall / AFP/Getty…)
LONDON -- Nearly two hours of sheer determination -- and, at times, clever maneuvering -- resulted in a photo finish between Nicola Spirig of Switzerland and Lisa Norden of Sweden in the women's Olympic triathlon Saturday at Hyde Park.
They crossed the finish line, both in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 48 seconds. But the gold went to the 30-year-old Swiss triathlete, who was competing in her third Olympics. She was sixth four years ago and 19th in Athens.
Erin Densham of Australia won bronze, and 30-year-old American Sarah Groff barely missed the podium, taking fourth, after getting back into medal contention late in the final stages of the 10K run.
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The last, and only, American woman to win an Olympic medal in this sport was Susan Williams, who took bronze at Athens in 2004.
Groff, of Hanover, N.H., was making her Olympic debut and ran the gamut of emotion in the mixed zone afterward, growing teary-eyed.
"If you don’t have a kick, you don’t have a kick. I didn’t have it," Groff said. "There’s nothing I could do at that point. You hope that somebody blows up or falls or something. At the end of the day, I did what I could. I put it all out there."
So did her life pass before her eyes in the final few hundred meters?
"You’re just running. It’s racing." Groff said. "Of course it flashes through your mind, 'Oh my goodness gracious, I just lost a medal...."
Groff was unable to finish the sentence.
Rain from the previous night had made conditions slippery on the course, which created problems during the cycling section of the event. Several riders crashed on one particular corner and Groff even rode over Poland's Maria Czesnik, who had tumbled off her own bike
"I had nowhere to go," Groff told The Times' Kevin Baxter in the mixed zone. "Either I crash or I ride over the girl lying in the middle of the road right in front of me. And I thought as I was going over this poor girl, I was going to go down.
"Maybe I'm a much better bike handler than I realize. I just kept on riding. I was looking around .'Who saw that?’ It was unbelievable. I feel so bad for her. That’s the second high point of my race. Obviously the high point is like being in the mix for a medal. The second high point is staying upright.
"Girls were just really skittish on the bikes. It’s the Olympics. People get nervous."
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