Alex Yee’s rapid rise to the top of triathlon brought him a silver medal on his Olympic debut in Tokyo, and with the promise of much more to come in the future.
The 23-year-old was looking to follow in the footsteps of Alistair Brownlee by making it three successive British golds at the Games but it was Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt who proved the strongest on the run at Odaiba Marine Park.
Jonny Brownlee, who was bidding for a medal at a third successive Olympics having won bronze in London and silver in Rio, had to settle for fifth.
Yee, from Lewisham, is the fastest pure runner in the history of triathlon but over the past couple of years he has proved himself capable of living with the best on the swim and bike as well, making him a formidable competitor.
After standing on the podium to receive his medal, Yee said: “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.
“I still feel like I’m a child of the sport, I’m going into every race trying to learn things. If I can carry on improving my swim then I can be a bit higher up and be in the race every time and that’s the goal for me, just to become the complete athlete rather than be winning everything, and fame and money.”
Yee’s silver made Britain the most successful nation in Olympic triathlon with six medals so far, and the trio of Georgia Taylor-Brown, Vicky Holland and Jess Learmonth will hope to add to that in the women’s race on Tuesday.
Britain will also have a very strong chance of gold when the mixed relay makes its Olympic debut on Saturday.