This unauthorized biography of Laura Bennett, the first woman selected to the U.S. 2008 Olympic Triathlon Team, may be modified from time to time, as additional information becomes available:
Born April 25, 1975, Laura Marie (Reback) Bennett was raised in a family of triathletes. Her father, Paul, and older brothers, David and John, competed in triathlons. Laura began competing herself at age 10.
In college she shifted her focus from triathlons to swimming. She had already experienced success on the swim team at Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Fla., where she also competed in track and cross country. In college, however, she took her game to a new level as a member of the 1997 NCAA Champion 400 Medley Relay team at Southern Methodist University.
After graduating from college (with a B.A. in finance), Bennett returned to triathlon competition in earnest. In 1997 she was the second U.S. amateur at the World Championship in Perth, Australia.
In 2000, Bennett was the second alternate on the Triathlon Team.
2000 was also the year that Laura got together with her husband, Greg, an Australian triathlete. The two continue to help each other train and compete.
In 2004, Laura competed in all three U.S. Olympic trials, in Honolulu, Hawaii; Madeira, Portugal; and Bellingham, Washington. In each race, she fell short. As a result, she was denied a slot on the 2004 Olympic team. She was named first alternate, but that position did not offer her a chance to compete in Athens.
Her husband, Greg, on the other hand, did compete in the 2004 Olympics. He finished fourth.
Laura continued to compete in a number of prestigious events. In 2006, she was ranked number 1 in the world among women triathletes.
In 2007, Bennett won the BG Triathlon World Cup in Des Moines (aka the Hy-Vee marathon). Besides prestige, she walked away with a $200,000 prize.
On September 15, Bennett raced in the 2007 Beijing BG Triathlon World Cup. She described the course (which will also be the Olympic course) as follows:
“The Beijing Course is a solid course. The swim is one lap, which leaves no one to hide, but it is a bit forgiving if you can get on someone's feet. The buoys can cause some backups and breakups that don't occur in the one lap swim, so there are pros and cons for this type of course. The bike is a rolling course with about a 600-meter hill in it, not so devastating but challenging. The run is mostly flat with a short pinch of a downhill and a short pinch of an uphill. Two-thirds of the run course is on this rubbery blue mat which seems to zap the drive out of your legs, and on the bike it grabs your wheels. So that is an added challenge to the course.”
Despite the challenging course, Laura Bennett finished third overall and received the bronze medal. She was the first American to cross the line, though, defeating her friend and competitor, Sarah Haskins, by 79 seconds. As a result, she qualified as the first member of the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.
Bennett said, "I finally feel like I deserve to be there - at the Olympics. I've worked so hard to get here."
Bennett believes that qualifying for the Olympics so far in advance will give her an advantage in her training regimen:
“I won't have to rush into shape to try and make the team early in the year, which will allow me to peak at the right times. My weakness is my aerobic ability, by nature I am a racer, so sacrificing training for racing because of qualifying races would only take away from my top end performance at the end of the summer - the Games.”
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