Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown both took world silver to write a new chapter in rivalries poised to define triathlon at Paris 2024.
Yee was a whisker away from the overall title which went to France's Léo Bergère, but did enough to beat New Zealand's Hayden Wilde into bronze, just as he did at Tokyo 2020.
Taylor-Brown also experienced Tokyo deja vu finishing behind Bermuda's Flora Duffy as the two engaged in another battle for the ages, with the Brit promising more is to come .
In the searing heat, Yee could not hold on as Bergère took the victory to claim the overall title as the Tokyo men’s silver medallist finished 23 seconds behind him.
Yee missed out on the overall title by just 21 points but did enough to hold off Wilde, a feat he also managed at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
The 24-year-old emerged from the swim 39 seconds down on leader Vincent Luis of France before four-time Olympic medallist Jonny Brownlee took the front on the bike.
🇬🇧 @jonny_brownlee bossing the bike leg 😍@Lixsanyee's fight for the world title plays out in the middle of the pack.— Team GB (@TeamGB) November 26, 2022
📺 @BBCSport #AbuDhabiFinals https://t.co/EgxwEVufds
Brownlee dropped away to finish 26th in Abu Dhabi as Yee combined with Wilde and Tokyo champion Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway to keep in touch with the leaders.
Yee recorded the second-fastest 10km run of the field but it was not enough to chase down Bergère and the USA’s Morgan Pearson.
To beat the Frenchman to the overall title, Yee needed to make the podium, but ran out of steam as Jelle Geens outsprinted him for third spot.
“That was the culmination of a long season I am glad we can put on an entertaining show and I gave everything out there,” Yee said.
“I was really suffering with cramp from the second lap of the run and I didn’t quite have it at the end when it came down to it.
“I didn’t want to hide in the group, I wanted to do some work, I wanted to be responsible for the outcome of the race.
“I am proud I did that and Léo raced a perfect race and deserves to be world champion, congratulations to him.”
Yee’s season started in perfect fashion as he claimed the opening World Triathlon Championships Series win in Yokohama.
A crash at his home race in Leeds was followed up with victory in Montreal before double gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.
Another Series win in Cagliari came in October before an overall silver medal was added to his 2022 haul in Abu Dhabi.
He added: “It has been an amazing year and I won’t reflect on that as the outcome of the year, I have been really pleased with what I have produced, second isn’t bad!
🥈 World SILVER for Alex Yee!#AbuDhabiFinals 🏊♂️🚲🏃♂️ @Lixsanyee pic.twitter.com/b1cLbH4teK— Team GB (@TeamGB) November 26, 2022
“It was always going to be a big challenge with only doing five races this season, but I gave it my best and I’ve got a lot to look forward to.”
Taylor-Brown finished behind Bermuda’s Flora Duffy in another repeat result of the Tokyo Olympics as the Commonwealth Games gold medallist pulled away on the run to win the straight shootout for the overall title.
The Manchester-born athlete had led the standings going into the season finale and the duo engaged in a game of cat and mouse.
The pair were neck-and-neck as they embarked on the run after Duffy had been caught from an opportunistic break on the bike.
Taylor-Brown took the lead during the opening stages of the run before allowing Duffy to reel her in before the Bermudan moved ahead and never relinquished her lead to claim the win.
She said: “I just knew that I had to follow Flora the whole time, I knew I needed good feet.
“I enjoy racing Flora and we have a good camaraderie so I just needed to keep my fluids in and stay focused to do all I could in the race.
“Out of transition, I didn't want to be at the front but I was so, I waited for Flora to catch me.
🥈 Georgia Taylor-Brown, your world silver medallist!— Team GB (@TeamGB) November 25, 2022
Another EPIC ding-dong with Flora Duffy 🤜💥🤛#AbuDhabiFinals 🇬🇧 @BritTri pic.twitter.com/R7eXdFrB4N
“We laughed at one point because I said ‘it is me and you now kid’, we were battling it out to the end and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The silver medal caps off another sparkling year for the Tokyo double medallist, with Taylor-Brown winning individual silver and mixed relay gold in Birmingham as well as three World Triathlon Championships Series events.
Despite having only just picked up her silver medal, Taylor-Brown is already looking ahead to going one better next year before continuing her rivalry with Duffy at Paris 2024.
She added: “I gave it absolutely everything but my legs gave in with two laps to go. I had nothing more in me and just wanted to sit down to be honest.
👑 @georgiatb's performances in the 2022 @worldtriathlon Championship Series:— Team GB (@TeamGB) November 25, 2022
What a season, what an athlete!pic.twitter.com/HUd7BjnKcZ
“I'm obviously disappointed to not get the title but I gave it everything today and I'll make sure I come back another year.
“I’m still learning in everything that I do, and I still want to take that world title one day."