Officials at one of the World Triathlon Olympic qualification events held in Tokyo has disqualified british pair Jess Learmouth and Georgia Taylor-Brown as the friends held hands as they crossed the finish line.
The pair had lead the race and although a photo finish initially gave 31 year old Learmouth the victory the pair were later deemed to have broken race rules and disqualified.
With their appeal being rejected it meant fellow Brit Vicky Holland was up graded to third, behind Italy’s Alice Betto and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy.
Typically, Holland was quick to praise her fellow team mates after the race saying;
“I really feel for Jess and Georgia because they raced exceptionally well today, and I feel like they absolutely smashed it and deserved the first and second finish.”
With the heat of the Tokyo sun belting down on the racers, Learmouth had taken an healthy lead during the swimming phase of the race only to see herself being caught up during the cycling stage as a pack of 13 racers including 25 year old Taylor-Brown closed the gap.
With the eventual winner Duffy also in that pack it was the last stage on foot that saw the british duo increase their lead as they worked together and decided to finish together as team mates.
However, it was later found that this act broke 2.11.f of the International Triathlon Union Competition rule book which states;
“athletes who finish in a contrived tie situation, where no effort to separate their finish times has been made, will be disqualified”.
The event was being used as a test for next years Olympic games and due to the extreme heat the running stage of the race was cut from 10km to 5km as the race organisers look at ways to combat the extreme temperatures following last years heat wave which killed more than a dozen people throughout the city.
The down side to the race being shortened and therefore not up to Olympic conditions it means it can not be used as an official qualifier, much to the disappointment of third placed Holland who’s performance would have seen the Rio medallist gain an automatic place in next year as one of Great Britain’s runners.
With that in mind it now adds to the selection headache of the Great Britain coaches and selection committee who will decide later in the year and as Holland suggested after the race;
“I don't know how British Triathlon will choose things now. I wouldn't want to be a selector.”
It won’t be an easy decesion.