IRVING, TEXAS, May 27. Sheila Taormina, 31, a gold medalist as a member of the U.S. 4 x 200 meter freestyle relay at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, won the women's Olympic Triathlon Trials in Irving, Texas, to earn a spot on the first U.S. Olympic triathlon team. The Michigan native clocked 2:05.57 over the Olympic distance, to win by 20 seconds over her nearest rival, Joanna Zeiger.
Taormina, perhaps the most unlikely member of the 1996 Olympic team, was originally an alternate on the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. But after swimming the fastest split during the morning prelims, she was placed on the finals team, where she recorded the second fastest time, as the U.S. edged Germany for the gold.
Taormina stayed in shape after the Olympics by participating in Masters swimming. But three years ago, feeling restless, she began training for triathlons, while still continuing to swim in Masters.
Taormina is seeking to become the second woman–and the first American woman–to win Olympic gold medals in two different sports in separate Olympics. The other was the USSR's Anfisa Rezisova, who won gold in Nordic skiing in 1988 and biathlon four years later.