Alex Yee takes triathlon silver on his Olympic debut in Tokyo

Alex Yee (right) congratulates gold medallist Kristian Blummenfelt (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)
0:32am, Mon 26 Jul 2021
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Alex Yee continued Britain’s run of success in Olympic triathlon with a silver medal on his debut behind Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt.

The 23-year-old was looking to follow in the footsteps of Alistair Brownlee by making it three successive British victories at the Games but it was Blummenfelt who proved the strongest on the run at Odaiba Marine Park.

Jonny Brownlee was bidding for a medal at a third successive Olympics having won bronze in London and silver in Rio but he had to settle for fifth.

Alistair Brownlee failed to make the team in his bid to win a third straight gold but, having established himself as heir apparent, Yee had legitimate hopes of gold.

The Kent athlete is the fastest runner in triathlon history and, having stayed in contention during the 1.5 kilometres swim and 40km bike ride, Yee surged to the front on the 10km run.

The group of contenders gradually dwindled but it was Blummenfelt who provided the decisive kick to pull clear of Yee and New Zealand’s Hayden Wilder over the final kilometre.

There were farcical scenes at the start when half the field dived in to begin the race while the other half stayed on the pontoon, blocked from entering the water by a boat.

The triathlon begins following a false start (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

Organisers tried frantically to stop those in the water but they had swum around 150 metres before being intercepted by another boat and taken back to the pontoon.

Brownlee was immediately to the fore along with world champion Vincent Luis, and it was the Frenchman who came out of the water first, forming a lead bike group of nine that included Brownlee.

Yee exited the water 30 seconds down but still well in contention and he led a large chase group across the line only 16 seconds behind at the end of the first lap.

The fourth lap saw the two groups merge, putting Yee, who won the British 10,000 metres title in 2018 and beat Mo Farah as a youngster, in a very strong position.

The Brockley athlete cemented his status as a potential gold medallist in the World Triathlon Series race in Leeds last month, pulling clear of the field to win comfortably.

His success is all the more impressive given his career was nearly ended before it began by a crash during a race in 2017 that left him with broken ribs, vertebrae and a shoulder blade as well as a punctured lung.

This was the strongest field Yee had ever competed in but he was soon leading the run, with Brownlee hanging on at the back of the front group.

A big group formed on the bike (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

The group slowly dwindled but both British athletes remained to the fore. Blummenfelt signalled his intent by making a break on the third lap that split the pack, with only Yee and Wilde able to hang on.

Brownlee was cut adrift, and early in the final lap Blummenfelt made his bid for gold, pulling clear of Yee and Wilde, and never looked like being caught.

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