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Olympic Hopeful: Renee Tomlin

Renee is a recipent of the USA Triathlon Foundation Pillar Grant and is chasing her dreams to qualify for the Olympic Team.
Story by: Kristi Jacobi

Encourage. Inspire. Ignite. As part of its Mission, the USA Triathlon Foundation focuses on supporting Olympic Hopefuls in the sport. For these high-performance athletes, the endeavor is not just a dream, but drives their lifestyle, career, intentions and goals day-to-day and year-to-year. While the Olympics make a “public” appearance every four years, for those pursuing their place in history it is a lifetime of effort that requires physical, emotional and financial support. Through its grant program, the USA Triathlon Foundation is able to convert donations from many into targeted support for members of Team USA forging their Olympic paths.

Olympic Hopeful Renée Tomlin is a recent recipient of this support, benefitting from a $2000 USAT Foundation grant ahead of her 2019 season. The grant helped Renée to cover out-of-pocket expenses and allowed her to dedicate herself full- time to her training and competition. A former NCAA All-American in track and field and cross-country, Tomlin was introduced to triathlon through the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program, made her elite triathlon debut in 2014, and quickly found herself on several ITU podiums in 2015 and beyond.

After steadily climbing the ITU ranks through 2017, Renée suffered a set-back in 2018 when injury forced her to take time away from training and competition for the majority of the season. Limited in her ability to race, she lost out on potential prize earning, valuable points, world rankings and the opportunity to meet funding criteria. While detrimental to her competitive pursuits, a stress fracture in her foot afforded her the opportunity to spend time focusing on her mindset and to implement preventative care strategies when her training resumed. “I feel very fortunate to receive extra support from the USAT Foundation in order to bridge some financial gaps incurred from injury. Not only does this type of support go a long way, but the greater community and core values that come along with this partnership are priceless.” says Renee.

After returning to competition, she won the Sarasota-Bradenton ITU World Cup and helped Team USA to a gold medal at the Sarasota-Bradenton CAMTRI Mixed Relay American Championships before securing herself a bronze medal at the Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup and two silver medals at the ITU Mooloolaba and Chengdu World Cups.

In reflecting on her 2019 season, Renée shares the impact of quietly celebrating the life of fellow athlete Gabriel Grunwald - her drive, relentlessness, and ability to endure that inspires Tomlin to remain strong and steadfast in the face of her own obstacles. Though she wasn’t personally close to Gabe - they crossed paths in Tomlin’s earlier days as a track and field athlete - Renée, like many others, found herself drawn to the indomitable spirit of Gabe that spread through the athletic world at her passing. “It’s OK to struggle, it’s not OK to give up” is an attitude Gabe instilled that will never be forgotten, Tomlin says, both in and outside of sport - and with the support of the USA Triathlon Foundation, Renée is ready to carry that torch forward as she pursues her own Olympic dreams.

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