Georgia Taylor-Brown produces incredible recovery from a rear tyre PUNCTURE in the women’s triathlon to take silver for Team GB as Flora Duffy makes history to become Bermuda’s first ever Olympic champion
- There was real drama in the women’s triathlon early on Monday morning in Tokyo
- Flora Duffy won gold to become Bermuda’s first ever Olympic Games champion
- Team GB’s Georgia Taylor-Brown won silver after recovering from a puncture
- She lost 22 seconds in the bike stage when her rear tyre agonisingly went flat
Out of a tropical storm of grey and black came a blue, white and red bolt of towering resilience and talent. It wasn’t a gold medal that Georgia Taylor-Brown won on the shores of Tokyo Bay, but rarely has a silver looked so impressive.
What a remarkable performance, and what a nutty finale to a barmy race.
The key point is this – she was flying along on the bike, part of a breakaway of five for the better part of 40km, when one of those Olympic twists of fate went against her. She punctured her rear tyre and it let the air right out of her party.
Team GB’s Georgia Taylor-Brown claimed silver in the women’s triathlon on Monday in Tokyo
Taylor-Brown’s race looked to be in jeopardy when she suffered a dramatic rear tyre puncture
She was wiping tears away from her eyes after recovering in the run to take the silver medal
She dropped from the front of the lead group, and the other four women ahead became ever smaller on the horizon. By the time she ditched her faulty ride she was a full 22 seconds back and cooked.
But that run. She always had it in her legs to excel on that portion of the race, as one of the strongest runners in the field and the reigning world champion, but with that gap? Goodness, the way she reeled them in was magnificent.
First, she caught and passed her team-mate, Jessica Learmonth, and then the German Laura Lindemann. That left Katie Zaferes of the US and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, two athletes who, along with Taylor-Brown, were favourites here. At that juncture, the 27-year-old made her move.
Duffy was too far in front and won, but Taylor-Brown brought the thunder and surged past Zaferes. Gutsy doesn’t come close.
Flora Duffy took gold to make history in becoming Bermuda’s first ever Olympic champion
She covered her eyes as she crossed the line; those present couldn’t quite believe theirs.
The drama had commenced early. The start featured none of the chaos of the men’s race a day earlier, at which a camera boat drifted in front of the launch pontoon, blocking off half the field and necessitating a restart. But even without that layer of farce, there was still a 15-minute delay because of the storm.
With the water choppy and in driving rain, they dived in shortly before 7am, and the foul conditions quickly became influential. Two athletes failed to go the 1500m distance, including the Austrian Julia Hauser, who appeared close to vomiting as she was fished out of Tokyo Bay, and before long the field was stretched in a 300m line.
As the strongest swimmer, Learmonth, the world No 5, led the way and was first back on land after 18 minutes and 24 seconds, two seconds clear of the next. Taylor-Brown, who does her damage on the run, was fifth, seven seconds back of her team-mate, and Vicky Holland was down in 19th, 48 seconds off the lead. At 35 there were always questions over whether she could still do what she did so well in finishing third in Rio.
The cycling became a demolition derby on the soaked road. A Russian was the first to go, then a Frenchwoman and a Japanese rider and soon the departed numbered seven and counting. Others hit the deck and kept on going, a field that was vulnerable to weather-based calamity in a sport that already lends itself to attrition.
Duffy was a consistent leader in the race and she broke down in tears after crossing the line
Out in front, a group of seven had broken away, led by Taylor-Brown and Learmonth initially, and then by the two favourites, Flora Duffy of Bermuda and the US athlete Katie Zaferes. By the third 5km lap out of eight, that cohort had more than a minute between them and eighth, but then their select group began to thin.
First, Summer Rappaport of the US was dropped, and then there were five after Brazilian Vittoria Lopes fell back. Crucially, the remaining leaders included Laura Lindemann of Germany, a brilliant runner who finished second in the German indoor championships across 3,000m.
A big finish was developing, but then it started to look iffy for one half of the advance British party. With the cycle stage nearing a finish, Taylor-Brown abruptly lost pace – a puncture, we were informed. Luck at the Games goes in all directions, and in a blink she was plummeting.
She dropped 22 seconds in all entering the transition to the run, but soon caught Learmonth, who would finish ninth. Then she passed Lindemann to get up to third. Then Zaferes at the bell to go second. It was stunning.
By the end she was more than a minute behind Duffy, but way ahead of where she might have been. A particularly shiny silver.
They were treacherous conditions for the competitors in comparison to Monday’s mens race
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