Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Georgia Taylor-Brown overcomes leg injury and puncture to medal in women's triathlon

Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown took silver in the women’s triathlon, battling back from a mid-event puncture and revealing in the aftermath that she had been on crutches just 12 weeks ago.
Georgia Taylor-Brown, Flora Duffy and Katie Zaferes pose with their medals after the Women's Individual TriathlonGeorgia Taylor-Brown, Flora Duffy and Katie Zaferes pose with their medals after the Women's Individual Triathlon
Georgia Taylor-Brown, Flora Duffy and Katie Zaferes pose with their medals after the Women's Individual Triathlon

The 27-year-old hadn’t raced since September prior to today’s final and was forced to withdraw from the final pre-Olympics World Series event in Leeds after sustaining a stress response in her femur.

While Taylor-Brown’s hopes of a gold medal faded after the puncture during the final kilometre of the 40km bike ride, leaving her 22 seconds adrift of the leading pack, she produced a stunning fightback in the final leg, overhauling GB team-mate Jessica Learmonth, Germany’s Laura Lindemann, and Katie Zaferes of America, who eventually took bronze behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy.

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"It could have been taken away from me, but I proved that I was fit, I was ready to go, I did more than they asked me to do," she told BBC Sport after the race.

"I didn't know what to do [when I got the puncture], so I just rode out on the flat. It was panic mode but it paid off."

Revealing that she had kept her leg injury a secret, Taylor-Brown explained: "I got a stress response in my femur 12 weeks ago. So that was a bit of a shock.

"My training had gone so well before then, though, so I knew I had all that in the bag. I wanted to keep it private.

"You don't want to show your competitors your weaknesses, and so I just said I was ill, but I've had six weeks of building my running back again.

"It's not perfect, it's not what I wanted. It's not what anyone would want, but I think I got myself into a really good position and I was as fit as I could have been on that start-line today with the circumstances that I faced."

Her fellow medallers have also battled through adversity to triumph. The 33-year-old Duffy, who turned down the chance to race for Britain in her teens, struggled with a foot injury in 2019 and her pre-Olympics training suffered a setback when she sustaine a knee problem last winter.

Speaking afterwards, the 2016 and 2017 world champion, who added gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, said: “It was a lot of emotion to deal with, it is slowly hitting me.

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"This has been my dream since eight years old - I always wanted to be an Olympic champion," Duffy said, with her success meaning Bermuda becomes the least populous nation to ever win an Olympic gold.

"There have been many tears, many heartbreaks, many times I wondered if I would ever be healthy again to compete at the top,” she admitted.

Zaferes, meanwhile, took the world title in 2019 but has struggled to cope with the sudden loss of her father Bill, who died in April.

Britain’s former world champion Non Stanford, who is part of the BBC’s commentary team and helps train Zafares, added: “Katie lost her father earlier this year and to get through that and win a medal at the Olympics is just inspirational.”

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