Georgia Taylor-Brown said she went into ‘panic mode’ during the women’s Olympic triathlon at Tokyo 2020, but it paid off as she recovered from potential disaster to claim a brilliant silver medal for Great Britain.
The 27-year-old saw her chances of gold disappear when she suffered a flat rear tyre late in the bike leg early on Tuesday. But she shrugged off the disappointment to storm back and pip American Katie Zaferes for second place.
Flora Duffy was more than a minute ahead as she claimed a first ever Olympic gold medal for Bermuda, but Taylor-Brown was all smiles as she reflected on a superb recovery.
Panic mode after puncture
“I had a really good swim and then we got out and I heard 35 seconds and I thought ‘well this is perfect’,” she told BBC Sport.
“The bike, we worked really well, I got a puncture coming out of the park with about 2k to go or something, and I panicked. I didn’t know what to do, so I just rode on the flat. I lost maybe 15 seconds on the group.
“The first lap of the run was panic mode. I think I definitely paid for it on the latter end of the run, but it paid off.”
The race started 15 minutes later than the scheduled time due to torrential rain in the Japanese capital, and it made for challenging roads on two wheels, several athletes crashing out.
Georgia said: “I wasn’t happy, but I mean it is what it is – you just have to think everyone’s in the same position. Actually I think us British girls are probably better technically and the wet favoured the small group and that’s what we wanted. Yeah we just had to get on with it.”
Taylor-Brown’s British team-mate Jess Learmonth also finished in the top 10, taking ninth. She was first out of the water after a scorching 18:24 swim, but her hopes of a medal died on the final run leg.
She said: “I just can’t even believe how amazing this girl (Taylor-Brown) is, if you knew what she’d been through. I had a really good time and I tried to enjoy it. Quite emotional.”
Britain’s third competitor Vicky Holland finished 13th, having lost significant time after being involved in a crash on the bike leg.
She said afterwards: “I did everything I could. I can still be proud of everything I’ve done to get here. (To Taylor-Brown and Learmonth) You two are amazing, I’m so proud of you both!”