Team GB enjoyed more Olympic success in Tokyo overnight, scooping two more gold medals and a bronze on what is already being dubbed a ‘Super Saturday’.
Adam Peaty and James Guy secured their second and Great Britain’s fourth gold in the pool with an incredible win in the inaugural Olympic mixed 4x100metres medley relay, while an incredible late run from Alex Yee helped secure victory in the mixed triathlon relay.
This morning, Emma Wilson then scooped a windsurfing bronze – a quarter of a century after her mother came up agonisingly short in her final Olympic regatta.
And with sprinting sensation Dina Asher-Smith in action later today as well, the team’s medal haul could increase further at what has already been a hugely successful Games.
In the pool, the quartet of Kathleen Dawson, Peaty, Guy and Anna Hopkin clocked a new world record of 3min 37.58sec to beat China by 1.28sec, with Australia in third. The USA, anchored by Caeleb Dressel, could only finish fifth.
The stunning victory took Great Britain’s medal tally at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre up to seven – matching their record from a single Games, dating way back to London 1908.
When asked what made Team GB’s swimmers so special, Peaty told the BBC: ‘One word has changed the whole British team – belief.
‘We believe we can win, we believe we can get world records. If you have belief you can build everything around that and we showed that tonight.’
Great Britain’s Adam Peaty, James Guy, Anna Hopkin and Kathleen Dawson receive their Gold medals for the Mixed 4 x 100m medley relay
Jessica Learmonth, Jonathon Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee of Team Great Britain celebrate on the podium during the medal ceremony following the Mixed Relay Triathlon
Britain’s Emma Wilson celebrates after placing third in the women’s windsurfer medal race at the 2020 Summer Olympics
Great Britain’s Adam Peaty and James Guy celebrate winning the Mixed 4×100 metres medley relay during the swimming at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre
James Guy, of Britain, and teammate Adam Peaty celebrate winning the gold medal in the mixed 4×100-meter medley relay final
Peaty helped catch Team GB up after a slow start as the team secured a world record time as well as the gold medal
Peaty said a belief in the team is what makes Team GB’s swimmers so special this summer
Kathleen Dawson in action as she played her part to help win a seventh Olympic gold for GB
A stunning display means Team GB have now earned a fourth gold in the pool this summer
Hopkin had the daunting task of going toe-to-toe with USA superstar swimmer Caeleb Dressel, but insists she stayed focused on her own performance, admitting it was a ‘privilege’ to be part of the team.
‘I was trying not to think about (Dressel chasing her down). I was trying not to think about how far ahead we were from them,’ she told the BBC.
‘It’s just irrelevant when you’re in the water – you’ve just got to race. When I turned I saw I still had a good bit of water in front of me and I just went for it. It’s an amazing feeling and privilege to be in this team.’
This event has been added to the Olympics schedule for the first time – where two males and two females must be selected but the nation can use any combination in the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle splits.
It means the lead can change hands multiple times as men and women can race against each other in the same leg of an event that was first introduced for long course swimming at the 2015 World Championship.
Dawson started with the backstroke and her time of 58.8s meant Peaty leapt into the pool with Britain sixth, and the 100m breaststroke gold medallist’s astonishing split of 56.78s helped them up into fourth.
Guy, who won his first gold earlier this week in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay, clocked exactly 50s in the butterfly to take Britain into the lead and Hopkin finished in 52s flat to spark exuberant celebrations.
Then, on a gloriously sunny morning, Jonny Brownlee stepped out of a shadow and into a golden glow. It has taken an awful lot of swimming, cycling and running to get to this point, but finally the little brother joined the family business of winning Olympic titles.
It wasn’t the sort of individual crown won twice by his elder sibling Alistair, but who cares? What a marvellous tale in a Games that has already thrown up its share.
Bronze at London 2012, silver in Rio de Janeiro four years later, and here the succession dream appeared to be done when he was fifth in the individual. But back he stormed in the team relay on Saturday morning, part of a fabulous four with Jess Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee.
With Yee and Taylor-Brown having won silver medals across the past week, they were always favourites to hit the top step, and after Brownlee broke from the pack on his run, there were only sporadic moments late on when the gold felt at risk.
Brief moments. Irrelevant moments. When it was all done, with Yee concluding the final run with 14 seconds of daylight to the Americans in silver, Brownlee was the first to wrap him in a hug.
At 31, Brownlee will now call it a day at this level of competition. A brilliant finale and one of the most heartening sights of these Olympics.
Brownlee said: ‘Olympics? Completed it. It feels absolutely amazing. It’s my third Olympics and I’ve finally got gold.’
This was a collective triumph, one built on the platform of Learmonth’s brilliant swim, and secured through excellent runs by each of Brownlee, Taylor-Brown and Yee. But it is impossible not to hone in on the individual, on the guy for whom this day almost never came.
No one could argue that Brownlee’s career would have been shabby without a gold. He has long been considered a phenomenon of his sport, a former world champion whose consistency in his younger years once yielded 45 straight podium finishes.
On that front, he exceeded even Alistair. But comparisons to his brother haver naturally cast him in a less shiny light, and it has only added to his charm that he has never been anything less than decent about all that talk.
Alex Yee of Team Great Britain celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win gold during the Mixed Relay Triathlon
He ensured Britain’s team of Jonny Brownlee (L), Jessica Learmonth (C) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (R) won by 14 seconds ahead of the USA
Jonny Brownlee joked he had ‘completed’ the Olympics after finally securing a gold medal
Yee collapses to the ground after crossing the finish line as he is congratulated by team-mates
Alex Yee of Britain lays down after winning the gold medal in the mixed relay triathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics
Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, left, and Marco Van Der Stel, of the Netherlands, come out of the waterduring the triathlon
Jonathan Brownlee, of Britain, competes during the mixed relay triathlon at the 2020 Summer Olympics
He has always been likeable, a good egg, and so there was something gnawing about an interview he gave to Sportsmail prior to these Games when he said he wouldn’t be ‘100 per cent content without an Olympic gold’. That can be parked forever.
Brownlee added: ‘The Olympics is always a special event and this one is even more special after what everyone’s been through and to do it as a team is absolutely amazing.
‘I don’t really know what to say. If someone had said at the start of my international career I’d have three Olympic medals and three different colours I’d have taken that. It’s super special. The way we all raced today was amazing.
‘Jess set us up perfectly, we didn’t make any mistakes, we did everything as well as we could and Alex finished it off. To finally get a gold medal, I’m quite emotional. It’s about time, I keep on trying to get gold medals, Alistair’s won two so far and to go home with one and get towards matching him is super special.
‘It’s also the first ever mixed team relay in triathlon so we’ve made history in that. I feel like I’ve been a part of a lot of history in my career and that’s just another one. It’s capped off my Olympic career amazingly.’
Britain had some level of control of this race from the start. Learmonth put the quartet on a good path, leading through both the 300m swim and the 6.8km ride. Despite the run being her lesser suit, Learmonth was only two seconds back in third when she tagged in Brownlee.
He was in the cluster of four through the swim and briefly lost speed when his foot slipped from his pedal after the transition to the bike. But he was embedded with the US, Germany and the Netherlands and then snatched an early lead in the run. He was busting a gut to get to that top step and by the time he handed over to Georgia Taylor-Brown he had earned a nine-second lead. A huge effort.
With Taylor-Brown and Yee silver medallists in the individual events, Britain held all the best cards. The lead grew substantially through Taylor-Brown’s ride, up to 23sec at one stage, but by the time she switched to trainers it was down to 11. Given the strength of her run, it was a healthy lead, but a minor downturn in momentum.
She stretched it back out to 21, allowing Yee some breathing room. Taylor-Brown said: ‘I just wanted a comfortable swim and bike and I knew I needed to give everything that last run lap and give everything I could for little Yee-boy.’
He was 17 seconds clear getting on his bike, but the pursuit was led by the world No 1 Vincent Luis of France and the American Morgan Pearson. They could work as a team, sharing the load, but Yee was out on his own.
One metre at a time, they reeled him in, and with one lap of the circuit remaining Luis moved alongside. Yee and Luis were effectively even going to the transition, and as an international grade runner, Yee still had a trick to play, but Pearson and Luis are quick. Very quick. It was a fight for gold.
Yee pulled it out to a 50m lead at the end of the first lap of the run, and that is a big lead in this reduced format. Luis and Pearson attacked and pushed, but the latter couldn’t do it. He took silver, Luis had bronze. Britain, and Brownlee, had gold.
Yee said: ‘I was pretty scared taking over. These guys had done the perfect race up to that point – we had the three best people doing each leg and I wanted to do it justice. In my mind I wasn’t going to do anything less than trying to get the win.’
Learmonth added: ‘I can’t believe it. I was slightly nervous being in a team with Olympic medallists.’
They all are now.
Great Britain’s Emma Wilson celebrates after scooping a bronze medal in the windsurfing event in Enoshima this morning
Great Britain’s Emma Wilson celebrates after scooping a bronze medal in the windsurfing event in Enoshima this morning
Emma Wilson of Team Great Britain competes on her way to winning bronze after finishing third in the Women’s RS:X windsurf class
Emma Wilson of Team Great Britain and Charline Picon of Team France compete in the Women’s RS:X windsurf class
The medal rush then continued when Emma Wilson confirmed a windsurfing bronze medal for Great Britain in Enoshima – a quarter of a century after her mother came up agonisingly short in her final Olympic regatta.
After an impressive campaign in which she only once finished outside the top five in 12 preliminary races, the 22-year-old had the luxury of starting the final double-points race secure in the knowledge that the elusive place on the podium was in the bag.
In benign conditions that contrasted sharply with those of most of the qualifying rounds, Wilson ceded the silver medal position to Charline Picon of France, who streaked over the line in first place.
China’s Lu Yunxiu, who knew she would take gold so long as she closely trailed her two medal rivals, carefully tracked Wilson over the line before all three medallists celebrated by leaping into the sea.
Bronze for Wilson represented the first medal for a female British windsurfer since Bryony Shaw took bronze in Beijing in 2008.
And there was particular satisfaction for the Wilson household after her mother, Penny Way, finished in sixth and seventh positions in the same category in the 1992 and 1996 Games respectively.