Triathletes disqualified from Olympic qualifier for crossing finish line hand-in-hand

Triathletes disqualified from Olympic qualifier for crossing finish line hand-in-hand
File photo of Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth

Great Britain’s Jess Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown were disqualified on the finishing line to hand Bermuda’s Flora Duffy gold at the Tokyo 2020 triathlon test event.

Learmonth and Taylor-Brown crossed the line hand-in-hand in first and second places, but were disqualified under rules designed to prevent contrived finishes.

National performance director Mike Cavendish told British Triathlon’s official website: “It’s obviously disappointing to have Jess and Georgia disqualified, but it’s a testament to the depth of our female squad that we still have another athlete on the podium [after Vicky Holland was upgraded to bronze].

“What the athletes delivered today has told us a lot ahead of next year, and to have five athletes in the top 11 is great.”

The disqualifications were made under the International Triathlon Union’s Rule 2.11.f, which states that “athletes who finish in a contrived tie situation, where no effort to separate their finish times has been made, will be disqualified”.

Twice world champion Duffy was the main beneficiary as she claimed first place ahead of Italy’s Alice Betto with Rio Olympic medallist Holland third.

Betto and the United States’ Summer Rappaport, who finished fifth, qualified for next summer’s Olympic Games in the city as a result of their endeavours.

The circumstances left British Triathlon selectors with a difficult decision to make on whether Holland has booked her place in Tokyo.

The selection policy states that any athlete who won a medal in Rio three years ago – Holland took bronze – would meet the criteria by finishing on the podium at the test event.

However, the policy includes the caveat: “The automatic nominations will not apply if, in the opinion of the panel, the results of (the race) are/is significantly impacted by: i. a large-scale racing incident (such as a crash); OR ii. environmental conditions/exceptional circumstances which result in substantial alteration to the race format.”

As well as the disqualifications, the distance of the run was halved from 10 kilometres to five because of extreme heat.

Holland said: “I don’t know how British Triathlon will choose things now. I wouldn’t want to be a selector.”

The selection panel will meet on October 14.

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