Great Britain shine brightest to win first-ever triathlon mixed relay gold

The Brits triumphed in a special race, as USA claimed silver and France bronze. 

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

It's not over until it's over.

In what may have been one of the most spectacular sporting debuts of all time, the triathlon mixed relay was nerve-wracking, tactical and ferociously fast.

Great Britain are champions, after a searing first three legs from Jess Learmouth, Jonny Brownlee and Georgia Taylor-Brown saw them move 20 seconds ahead, before anchor Vincent Luis of France - the triple world champions - sped past Team GB's Alex Yee on the final bike ride to set up a nail-biting finish.

On the title-deciding run, Yee - silver medallist in the men's individual event - fought back to win an unforgettable gold for Great Britain, with the team finishing in 1:23:41. They now have three medals over the entire Tokyo 2020 triathlon competition: two silvers and one gold.

Celebrations will undoubtedly go on long into the day, after Learmouth, Brownlee, Taylor-Brown and Yee made history for Team GB, as each swam for 300m, cycled for 6.8km and ran for 2km as if their lives depended on it.

The USA team, made up of Katie Zaferes, Morgan Pearson, Kevin McDowell and Taylor Knibb, claimed a special silver medal, while France's Leonie Periault, Dorian Coninx, Cassandre Beaugrand and Vincent Luis won bronze.

A glorious end to a brand new competition

The triathlon mixed relay saw teams of two women and two men, battle it out in a truncated relay version of the individual race that lasts less than 90 minutes.

France came in as favourites, having won the world championships in 2018, 2019 and 2020. However, it was Great Britain, buoyed by silver medals in the men's and women's individual triathlon, that proved their mettle, laying down a marker when Brownlee - the second British triathlete to head out across Odaiba Marine Park - surged to the front to put daylight between himself and the chasing pack.

After his exertions today, Brownlee now has a medal of every colour at the Olympics, having come third at London 2012, second at Rio 2016 and now first - in the inaugural mixed relay race - at Tokyo 2020.

Taylor-Brown, who won silver on 27 July having fought back after suffering a puncture in the women's race, went out third, building a 20-second gap between herself and the chasing pack.

And then came the finish.

With Britain looking all but assured of gold, France's Luis showed immense racecraft to steal a march on Yee, passing him on the final bike ride with just a single 2km run left to decide the gold medal.

But the 23-year-old Yee, a late addition to the Great Britain triathlon squad, was not to be outdone. He built an unassailable lead from the first moments of the run to kill the hopes of the USA and French teams, before passing the finish line for a historic victory.

After the race, gold medallist Taylor-Brown spoke about her incredible journey at Tokyo 2020, saying: "It’s amazing. I couldn't ask for a better way to start my first Olympic Games. It's quite incredible and just to do it with the team and with the past year with a pandemic. To be able to finish it and bring everyone together and go home with a gold medal. I think it just means so much to Team GB. It also means so much for the support system that we have around Team GB.

"I'm just so grateful right now.”

Yee, fresh from anchoring his team to victory, was equally pleased by the performance of Great Britain.

"Amazing, obviously unbelievable," he said. "The guys in the team did the best job in the world. They literally could not have done a better job. For me, I knew what I had to do at that point. I had to deliver on the great work they started and I am over the moon I could do that."

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