Olympic Triathlon: Winning British triathletes disqualified after crossing line hand-in-hand

For the British triathletes Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown it should have been a moment of uncontaminated victory. Throughout a key Tokyo 2020 Olympics they had matched each other stroke for stroke, pedal for pedal and stride for stride, and so moments before the finish line they decided to impulsively join hands to celebrate thrashing the rest of the world’s top athletes. Fans from all over the world can buy Olympic Triathlon Tickets online.

Unbeknown to them, however, they had fallen foul of the International Triathlon Union’s competition rule 2:11f, which states that triathletes must not “finish in a forced tie situation where no struggle to separate the finish times has been made”. So, while Learmonth was initially given the victory after a photo finish, she and Taylor-Brown were quickly disqualified.

An appeal was rejected, which meant that another British athlete, Vicky Holland, moved up from fifth to third behind the new winner, Flora Duffy of Bermuda. Unluckily the rules relating to tied races were changed after Britain’s Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee notably pulled his brother Johnny, who was suffering from heatstroke, across the line in a race in Mexico in 2016.

Olympic Triathlon: Winning British triathletes disqualified after crossing line hand-in-hand

Playing the good Samaritan has also been banned by the International Triathlon Federation, with its rules now stating that an athlete cannot physically assist the forward progress of another athlete on any part of the course. This will result in both athletes being disqualified.

The performances of Learmonth, 31, and Taylor-Brown, 25, so impressive was they had to battle through extreme heat in Japan’s capital, with temperatures rising well above 30C and the humidity pushing above 80% despite a 7.30am the start.

Olympic Triathlon: Winning British triathletes disqualified after crossing line hand-in-hand

The conditions were so severe that organizers had earlier split the distance of the running section to five kilometers. Even with those protections the French athlete, Cassandre Beaugrand, had to be taken to hospital with suspected heatstroke.

Both Learmonth, who is a European, Commonwealth and World Triathlon Series medal winner, and Taylor-Brown, who won a maiden World Triathlon Series race earlier this year, were too upset to speak afterward. Though, British triathlon’s national performance director, Mike Cavendish, admired their performances.

Olympic Triathlon: Winning British triathletes disqualified after crossing line hand-in-hand

Holland, who won an Olympic bronze at the Rio Olympics in 2016, rebounded Cavendish’s comments. I really feel for Jess and Georgia because they raced extremely well and I feel like they absolutely smashed it and deserved the first and second finish, I don’t know how British Triathlon will choose things now. I wouldn’t want to be a selector.

A British Triathlon spokesperson confirmed that all three British athletes are likely to have to wait until next May to find out whether they have been chosen for the Olympics, although an initial selection meeting will be held in October.

Olympic Triathlon: Winning British triathletes disqualified after crossing line hand-in-hand

Three men and three women will be picked for the team. Despite the widespread compassion for the British triathletes on social media, one leading law expert told the Guardian that the ITF had no option but to disqualify them.

In the meantime, with less than a year to go until the start of the Olympics 2020, how competitors and spectators will manage with the extreme heat which has killed at least 57 people across Japan during the past fortnight is an increasingly pressing concern.

Earlier this week several athletes were also treated for heatstroke at the world rowing junior championships in Tokyo. Olympic fans can get Olympic Tickets through our trusted online ticketing market place. OlympicTickets2020.com is the most consistent source to book Summer Games Tickets.

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