Having had to wait an extra year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games provided plenty of excitement and action, with Team GB triathletes showing their class as Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee both won gold and silver on their Olympic debut and Jonny Brownlee completed the set when the team won their first Olympic mixed relay gold.
The team that travelled to Japan this summer had a mix of Olympic experience and debutants at a Games, with previous medallists Brownlee and Vicky Holland joined by Team GB newcomers Taylor-Brown, Yee and Jess Learmonth.
For five of the six athletes, their selection was something they’d had to keep secret for a long time because of the delay, with Yee securing his place in the month before the Games having taken gold at AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds.
The postponement of the Games was an added obstacle for the athletes, however, as Taylor-Brown says, they simply had to carry on and prepare like it would go ahead despite the uncertainty.
“Into the middle of the year leading up to the Games, there was still a thought that it might get cancelled,” she commented.
“There was so much negativity in the media from the public in Japan that they didn’t want to host the Games, so even then I was thinking ‘we’ve done all this and gonna get cancelled’, but then I was also thinking that surely it was going to go ahead.”
Even amongst the uncertainty around the Games, Taylor-Brown and her fellow athletes still had to prepare like it would happen and continued in their training and preparation.
“It was something that was in the back of my mind and was something I thought about,” she continued.
“At the same time, you think I’ve got to prepare as if it will happen. I’m gonna have to prepare like it is going to happen, and even in 2020 we were preparing that it was. I didn’t really affect my training in that way.”
Against a backdrop of safety measures to keep everyone involved safe, the team came home with a pair of silver medals for Yee and Taylor-Brown and the first mixed relay Olympic gold medal for Learmonth, Brownlee, Taylor-Brown and Yee.
The men’s race was the first to take place, with Yee and Brownlee both well-placed heading onto the run. Yee took silver on debut, with Brownlee recording fifth on his third Olympic outing.
In the women’s race, following a puncture at the end of the bike, Taylor-Brown had to battle her way back to join the leading runners in the women’s race. Having caught compatriot Learmonth and Lindemann (GER), she passed Zaferes (USA) to claim silver behind Duffy of Bermuda and capture the hearts of the nation for her determination during the race but also the revelation of injury in the build-up. Learmonth crossed the line in nineth, with Holland, making her third Games appearance, crossed the line 13th following a crash.
With two silver medals already, Team GB’s quartet of Learmonth, Brownlee, Taylor-Brown and Yee were unstoppable as they led from the outset to secure the gold. The history making quartet proved that teamwork really does make the dream work, becoming the first nation to claim Olympic gold in mixed relay triathlon.
“It definitely happened well when it did!” Taylor-Brown added. “It was an incredible Games. It was my first Olympic Games and I wasn’t sure what to expect and I put a lot of pressure on myself than I felt pressure from anyone else. It was just very special and something that I’ll always remember and, even now, looking pictures it gives be goosebumps.
“I really enjoy the relay, I just have more energy and more to give in the relay. I get really nervous for the individual, but for the relay I was dancing around and so happy. I just wanted to get out there. I don’t know what it was about the team event, I just really, really enjoy it.
“I think it’s the fact that the people watching it really enjoy it and they really, really get behind it.”
You can recap the action from the mixed relay below.