Tokyo 2020: Alex Yee takes triathlon silver for Team GB on his Olympic debut

The athlete hoped to follow in the footsteps of Alistair Brownlee by making it three successive British victories at the Games, but fell just short in the run. Credit: PA

Alex Yee continued Britain’s run of success in Olympic triathlon with a silver medal on his debut, finishing just 11 seconds behind Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt.

He took the third medal for Team GB with a stunning run in his Olympic debut.

The 23-year-old was hoping 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.

After standing on the podium, Yee tried to digest his achievement, saying: “It hasn’t really sunk in quite yet, it doesn’t feel quite real that it’s me yet.

“I still just feel like a normal boy from south-east London. I hope I can just serve as inspiration to many people that this is possible. I’m not anything special, I just really enjoy sport and I’ve been really lucky that it was me”.

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.

"But I’ve got to be proud of myself. I gave it absolutely everything. I’ve trained as hard as I could, raced as hard as I could, raced as smartly as I could and that’s what I had”, he said.

Brownlee was effusive in his praise of Yee, saying: "He’s unbelievable. I’ve seen him come through. He was in Leeds for a couple of years training and he’s an unbelievable talent".

Jonny Brownlee's brother, and two-time gold medallist, 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.

Norway's Kristian Blummenfelt proved the strongest on the triathlon run at Odaiba Marine Park. Credit: PA

An error at the start of the race saw some farcical scenes as half the field dived in to begin the race while the other half were blocked from entering the water by a boat.

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.

Team GB athlete Alex Yee was in a strong position throughout the triathlon. Credit: PA

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.

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.