Georgia Taylor-Brown goes from crutches to Olympic silver medallist in 12 weeks
By Eleanor Crooks, PA
Georgia Taylor-Brown revealed a leg injury almost ruled her out of the Olympics after overcoming a puncture to win silver for Great Britain in a wet women’s triathlon in Tokyo.
The 27-year-old from Manchester gave a delighted shrug as she stepped on to the podium and no wonder having been on crutches 12 weeks ago and having to prove she was fit enough to compete a week before flying out to Japan.
She said: “That was probably more stressful than today, because 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.
“Obviously it’s strange to come into an Olympic Games not having raced since last September. 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 did just say 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.”
The injury even had a silver lining as it meant Taylor-Brown did more swim training, and getting in the front group of seven going on to the bike leg proved crucial after the race finally began 15 minutes late because of wet and windy conditions caused by tropical storm Nepartak.
That group had been whittled down to five when, late on the final lap of the 40 kilometres and with the weather finally relenting, Taylor-Brown heard a hissing from her tyre.
She lost 22 seconds before setting out on the 10km run and quickly overtook team-mate Jess Learmonth, whose ferocious pace on the swim split the field, and Germany’s Laura Lindemann before passing Katie Zaferes of the United States heading into the final lap.
Gold was well out of reach in the form of the phenomenal Flora Duffy, who became Bermuda’s first Olympic champion, but Taylor-Brown was thrilled with silver as she won Britain’s seventh triathlon medal at the last three Olympics and recorded the best result for a British woman.
She said of the puncture: “I did have a panic. I decided not to stop and change my wheel and just see what happens now.
“I went really hard for the first lap of the run. I suffered after that but it paid off. I was biding my time, I was five seconds off (Zaferes) for quite a while. I didn’t want to push it too soon because I was really suffering but I really wanted to move up and get the silver medal.”
Taylor-Brown did not feel the puncture affected the outcome, saying: “I didn’t have the speed that Flora had today, no way. I’m more than happy with silver.”
Learmonth does not have the same speed on the run as her training partner and best friend but was happy with ninth while Rio bronze medallist Vicky Holland, competing in her third Olympics, finished 13th.
There is a real team spirit within British triathlon and both women were thrilled for Taylor-Brown.
Learmonth said: “You wouldn’t believe how talented she is. When we came across the line I just cried and I never cry. I just wish everyone would know how amazing she is.”
Holland added: “I don’t know anyone else who could have done the prep that she’s done in the last 12 weeks and done that in the shape she’s in now and deliver that. Anyone else, I don’t know if they’d even make the start-line. She’s dealt with everything thrown at her like an absolute trooper.”
With Taylor-Brown emulating Alex Yee in the men’s race, Britain should have an excellent chance of a gold medal when the mixed relay makes its Olympic debut on Saturday.