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A comeback win for Flora Duffy in Tokyo after two British athletes are disqualified

Duffy wins in her return to ITU racing at the test event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

On Thursday, August 15th, the test event for the Tokyo 2020 Games took place for the elite women. After an hour and forty minutes of racing, Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) and Jessica Learmonth (GBR) crossed the finish line holding hands in first and second place, as they rejoiced a well-executed race.

Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) and Jessica Learmonth (GBR). Photo: Delly Carr/ ITU Media

Related: Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals revealed

The countrywomen and training partners stuck together throughout the race, and in the final kilometres of the shortened run (due to air quality) the two would separate themselves from Flora Duffy (BER). Unfortunately, the finish line celebration was a clear violation of the International Triathlon Union’s (ITU) Rule 2.11.f, that states: “Athletes who finish in a contrived tie situation, where no effort to separate their finish times has been made, will be disqualified.”

Flora Duffy wins in her return to racing. Photo: Delly Carr/ ITU Media

As a result of the disqualification of Taylor-Brown and Learmonth, Duffy took the gold medal in her first ITU race since WTS Hamburg 2018 (sidelined with injuries). Italy’s Alice Betto finished second, and Great Britain’s Vicky Holland came across the line in third.

“There was a lot of cobwebs to blow away, and it was hard from the start,” said Duffy after her return to racing. “I haven’t done this intensity in over a year, and there were times that I didn’t think I’d be back at the pointy end of a race, so this is the best-case scenario. I loved the course, and it was great to be back out with the girls again.”

Current world number one Katie Zaferes, was unable to finish the race as was involved in a crash that required medical treatment. She broke her nose and had to receive 23 stitches in her mouth to close a wound. Also included in the collision was her teammate Kirsten Kasper. Kasper was able to continue with a few bumps and some road rash. She came across the line in 14th.

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Well in all my visualization and preparation this is not what saw. I went down sometime during the race when I made a mistake looked back and hit a barrier. I have 23 stitches in my mouth from when my gums separated on impact in my lower mouth, a broken nose, and some bumps and bruises but luckily nothing too serious. I’m sad my mistake impacted @kirstenkasper, I’m sad for me, I’m mad at myself, and I’m going through waves of emotions. Thank you so much for the support and kind messages. I’m going to be ok, I’m just a bit overwhelmed. Also so much thank you to those by me on the course giving me updates and helping me piece together what happened, for all the medical staff, and specifically @usatriathlon for being there through it all. And for all my fellow competititors you guys are awesome and so special. I’m sad and a little banged up but I’ll be ok ??

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Joanna Brown of Carp, Ontario was the lone Canadian in the women’s field, and she finished 27th in the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Event.

On Friday, August 16th, the elite men will compete in Tokyo. The start list includes the likes of Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS), Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR), Henri Schoeman (RSA), Richard Murray (RSA) and Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN). Matthew Sharpe and Alexis Lepage will join Mislawchuk. The 2019 Tokyo ITU Paratriathlon World Cup will take place on Saturday, and the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series will take place on Sunday.