Tokyo Olympics: Georgia Taylor-Brown recovers from PUNCTURE band to take silver in women’s triathlon

from from a tropical storm of gray and black came a blue, white and red flash of towering resilience and talent. It wasn’t a gold medal that Georgia Taylor-Brown won on the shores of Tokyo Bay, but rarely has a silver one looked so impressive.

What a remarkable achievement, and what a crazy finale to a barmy race.

The main point is this – she was flying along on the bike, part of a five-mile breakaway for the better part of 40km, when one of those Olympic twists of fate came upon her. She had gotten a flat rear tire, which drained the air from her batch.

Team GB’s Georgia Taylor-Brown claimed silver in the women’s triathlon in Tokyo on Monday in

Taylor-Brown’s race seemed to be in jeopardy when she suffered a dramatic rear tire puncture

She wiped the tears from her eyes after recovering in the run-up to take the silver medal

She wiped the tears from her eyes after recovering in the run-up to take the silver medal

She fell at the front of the breakaway and the other four women in front were getting smaller and smaller on the horizon. By the time she dumped her faulty ride, she was 22 seconds back and done.

But that run. She always had it in her legs to excel in that part of the race, as one of the strongest runners in the field and the reigning world champion, but with that gap? My goodness, the way she brought them in was beautiful.

First she caught and passed her teammate, Jessica Learmonth, and then Germany’s Laura Lindemann. That left US Katie Zaferes and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, two athletes who, along with Taylor-Brown, were favorites here. It was then that the 27-year-old set her on the move.

Duffy was too far up front and won, but Taylor-Brown brought the thunder and stormed past Zaferes. Gutsy doesn’t come close.

Flora Duffy took gold to make history by becoming Bermuda’s first-ever Olympic champion

She covered her eyes as she crossed the line; those in attendance couldn’t quite believe theirs.

The drama had started early. The start had nothing to do with the chaos of the men’s race the day before, when a camera boat drifted in front of the starting pontoon, blocking half the field and necessitating a restart. But even without that layer of farce, there was still a fifteen minute delay due to the storm.

With the choppy waters and driving rain, they dove in shortly before 7 a.m. and the poor conditions quickly became influential. Two athletes failed to complete the 1,500-meter distance, including Austria’s Julia Hauser, who appeared to almost vomit when fished out of Tokyo Bay, and it wasn’t long before the field was stretched into a line from 300 meters.

As the strongest swimmer, Learmonth, the world’s No. 5, led the way and was the first to return to land at 18 minutes 24 seconds, two seconds ahead of the next. Dealing her damage on the run, Taylor-Brown was fifth, seven seconds behind her teammate, and Vicky Holland was 19th, 48 seconds off the lead. At 35, there were always questions about whether she could still do what she did so well by finishing third in Rio.

Cycling became a demolition derby on the soggy road. A Russian went first, then a French and a Japanese rider and soon seven left and counted. Others hit the deck and carried on, a field vulnerable to weather-induced calamities in a sport that already lends itself to a battle of attrition.

Duffy was a consistent race leader and she broke down in tears after crossing the line

Duffy was a consistent race leader and she broke down in tears after crossing the line

A group of seven had set out at the front, led initially by Taylor-Brown and Learmonth, then by the two favourites, Flora Duffy of Bermuda and American athlete Katie Zaferes. By the third round of 5km out of eight, that cohort had more than a minute between them and the eighth, but then their select group started to thin out.

First, Summer Rappaport was dropped from the US, and then there were five after Brazil’s Vittoria Lopes relapsed. Crucially, the remaining leaders were Laura Lindemann from Germany, a brilliant runner who finished second in the German 3000m Indoor Championships.

A big finish was in development, but then things started to look iffy for half of the British side’s advance. With the end of the cycle stage approaching, Taylor-Brown abruptly lost pace – a flat tire, we were informed. Luck at the Games goes in all directions, and in an instant she collapsed.

She dropped a total of 22 seconds on the transition to the run, but soon caught Learmonth, who would finish ninth. Then she passed Lindemann to finish third. Then Zaferes rings the bell to go second. It was amazing.

By the end, she was more than a minute behind Duffy, but way ahead of where she could have been. A particularly shiny silver.

It was treacherous conditions for the participants compared to Monday's men's race

It was treacherous conditions for the participants compared to Monday’s men’s race