The moment of triumph... or not

British triathletes Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth were disqualified from the Tokyo 2020 test event for crossing the line together, handing victory to Flora Duffy

By Rory Jiwani

It looked set to be a British one-two in the women's elite race of the Tokyo 2020 test event in Odaiba Marine Park on Thursday (15th August).

The ITU World Olympic Qualification race saw Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth go clear at the front with victory to be decided between them.

But just before they crossed the line, the training partners held hands making sure they broke the tape together.

Jess Learmonth (L) and Georgia Taylor-Brown break the tape together in the Tokyo 2020 test event triathlon (photo courtesy Tommy Zaferes/ITU Media)

But that was against ITU rules and the pair were disqualified, handing victory to Bermuda's two-time world champion Flora Duffy on her comeback from injury.

The governing body explained the punishment, quoting Rule 2.11.f which forbids a "contrived tie situation".

"We promise not to do that again"

Learmonth and Taylor-Brown had moved clear of Duffy on the 5km run, shortened from the original distance of 10km due to high temperatures in Tokyo Bay.

But their finish meant they missed out on Olympic qualification points which would have boosted their hopes of making next year's Games.

For Duffy, seeking just Bermuda's second Olympic medal, it was the perfect return after over a year out due to a tendon injury.

She told, "I haven’t done this intensity in over a year and there were times that I didn’t think i’d be back at the pointsy end of a race so this is best case scenario. I loved the course, it was great to be back out with the girls again.

"I love racing hot and humid conditions and the whole point was to come here and check out the conditions and for me that felt pretty good out there today." - Flora Duffy after winning the Tokyo 2020 test event triathlon

Italy's Alice Betto took second, thereby booking her place in Tokyo, with Rio 2016 bronze medallist Vicky Holland of Britain claiming third.

Speaking to British Triathlon, Holland said, "I really feel for Jess and Georgia because they raced exceptionally well today and I feel like they absolutely smashed it and deserved the first and second finish."

Taylor-Brown and Learmonth received plenty of backing on social media in the wake of the incident, with the former expressing her wish to make amends in the future on social media.

Georgia Taylor-Brown (@georgiatb) on Twitter after she and Jess Learmonth were disqualified from the Tokyo 2020 test event

Before their disqualification, Taylor-Brown had said, "We worked together the whole time. We’re team-mates, room-mates and friends, and it’s nice to come across the finish line together with a smile on our faces."

It was also a trying day for current world number one Katie Zaferes who was unable to continue after a bike collision with fellow American Kirsten Kasper.

Zaferes was reportedly fine apart from receiving stitches at the local hospital.

Summer Rappaport took advantage of her team-mates' misfortune with her fifth place seeing her qualify for Tokyo 2020 as the highest American finisher.