25 Nov 2020
3 min read
Jessica Learmonth says she doesn’t regret the moment her Olympic qualification was thrown into doubt after crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with Georgia Taylor-Brown.
The British pair were comfortably clear and set to seal their spots at the Games as they blitzed the Tokyo test event. But on their way across the line they decided to hold hands – and it kicked off a furore.
WATCH: Georgia and Jess head-to-head
They were eventually disqualified for a breach of rules and therefore didn’t earn the automatic qualification onto the British team for Tokyo. Thankfully, they have now been formally selected for the rearranged 2021 Olympics, and the duo can laugh about it.
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In a candid and exclusive head-to-head chat for Super League Triathlon the pair joked:
Jess: It was a funny one. I don’t regret it, but there were a lot of opinions around it so it was funny. It was interesting to see what people thought about what we did.
Georgia: They were mostly supportive and what mattered most to me was that the other athletes supported us in what we did.
Jess: Most of them knew the rule. It was just us. It was weird because me and you were both not involved when Alan John did it and I never experienced it or knew it was a rule.
Georgia: We did it and I think we did it because it felt right to do it. The whole lead up into the race and the six weeks before and a heat camp where we pushed each other in sessions. It was the whole journey getting to the test event was difficult and we did it together.
In the race we communicated together, we got rid of people on the bike together and we were winning anyway so it just made sense.
Jess: We were both at the same limit.
Georgia: Because it was a qualification for us for the Olympics there was nothing more we could do than come in first and second so why not come in together and enjoy it? But that was taken away quite quickly.
Jess: We got over it pretty quick.
Georgia: We won’t be doing it again.
Jess and Georgia, who both competed in the SLT Arena Games in 2020 with the former taking the debut title, are also open minded about the delay to the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jess: I don’t mind it being delayed a year even though I am knocking on. I do feel I have progressed each year, or I have tried to, and it gives me longer for my running.
Georgia: I don’t feel it makes a massive difference.
Jess: For me being a lot older it could have been a disaster for me but I don’t mind it being a year later.
Georgia: It’s the same for everyone and we would still be racing in 2021 anyway so it’s just another race.
Jess: It will be funny for other athletes because there will have been quite a few that would have wanted to retire and now carry on. There will be a lot of people in tricky situations but I don’t think it makes a difference to me or you.
It’s quite good in fact because I probably won’t do some of the stuff I did this year for next year. I won’t have nine weeks off swimming. I wouldn’t go to Australia again. It was not good for the shins and we thought it rained a lot at home but it rained a lot.
There are positives but it will be a different Olympics. It won’t be the Olympics we would have thought of.
Georgia: It’s sad but at least we get to race. Maybe they will have robots cheering us on.
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