Jonny Brownlee’s bid to add the triathlon world title to his Olympic silver ended in dramatic and ultimately unsuccessful style in Mexico.
Brownlee started the final race of the World Championship season, 235 points behind Spain’s Mario Mola.
And he looked to be heading to a famous victory in searing 33 degree temperatures in the coastal resort of Cozumel.
But just 500 metres from the conclusion of the race he started to stagger across the road, allowing South Africa Henri Schoeman, the bronze medallist in Rio, to snatch the lead and take the race victory.
Brownlee was then virtually carried and thrown across across the line by brother Alistair, the Olympic champion, to take second.
That meant Mola, who came through in fifth, hung on to his advantage in the overall standings by just four points to become world champion for the first time.
A protest then followed but officials ruled the results would stand, with Brownlee on a drip and taken to hospital as a precaution.
“I’ve been in that position before and I swore then if I saw anyone suffering like that I would always help them,” said Alistair Brownlee.
“I knew the world title was in play but it was absolutely the right thing to do.
“It was a natural human reaction to my brother but I’d have done it for anyone. It’s dangerous for someone to conk out a kilometre from the finish line where there might not be medical support, it’s a close to death as you can get in sport."
Brownlee also questioned his brother’s tactics, claiming that he pushed himself too hard and would have still won the race and claimed a second career world title if he’d taken it easier.
“I wished he’d have paced it right,” he added. “He could have jogged that last two kilometres and won the race.
“The conditions were tough but I’ve done what I want for the season so I wasn’t putting anything on the line.”
Struggling in the heat, Mola admitted he’d written off his world title bid, knowing that he’d needed to finish third if Jonny Brownlee won the race.
“It’s not the way I wanted to win the World Championships but it was a very tough race,” he said.
“I knew Alistair’s role was to help Jonny, they’re brothers, so I thought I’d be second again.”
Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won the women’s race to claim the overall title ahead of American Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen.
Britain’s Helen Jenkins just missed the podium to finish the season ranked fifth overall. Team-mates Non Stanford, a former world champion, finished eighth but Olympic bronze medallist Vicky Holland crashed on the bike and withdrew.