Vicky Holland became the first British woman ever to claim an Olympic triathlon medal after winning a sprint finish for Rio 2016 bronze at Copacabana with teammate Non Stanford.
Holland and Stanford were in medal contention throughout, cycling among the pack after the swim before running side by side as Gwen Jorgensen and Nicola Spirig broke away.
It was Holland who had more at the death sprinting away from Stanford in the last 100m to complete the podium after American Jorgensen had surged ahead of Spirig herself.
Team GB have enjoyed great recent success in triathlon, which made its Olympic debut in 2000, with Alistair Brownlee defending his title Rio and brother Jonathan upgrading to silver.
No woman had climbed the podium in 16 years although that has now changed with Holland claiming Team GB’s 62nd medal of the Rio 2016 Olympics on the penultimate day.
“I have such mixed emotions. I was absolutely delighted when I crossed the line and I still am. To come and win a medal for Team GB and for myself is absolutely what I came here for,” said Holland.
“But to have to beat out your best friend, your training partner, your housemate is hard. And I guess about 5km into the run, I knew that it was going to come down to me or Non for a medal.
“We’ve always said it’s fair game when it comes to the run. We knew we wanted a medal and we didn’t want to let Barbara Riveros [of Chile] back in from behind. So at that point we just had to keep the pressure on and keep running for the bronze.
“I wanted both of us to do it. Non is a huge part of what I do. Half of this medal is hers. I wouldn’t be the athlete I am if it wasn’t for her. I moved in with Non at the end of 2013 and I’ve become an exponentially better athlete for it.”
Holland’s eventual winning margin was just three seconds after almost two hours of racing and Stanford hinted that her tactics had cost her the reverse result or better.
“It’s very bittersweet. I’m absolutely delighted that Team GB have walked away with a medal and even more so that it was one of my best friends and my housemate,” she said.
“But on the reverse side, I was within 20 seconds of winning a medal and maybe I played it tactically a bit wrong.
“I didn’t feel great out there but I wanted to try and push on and make sure we got rid of Barbara [Riveros] so one of the medals was secure. Maybe I pushed a bit too hard and sacrificed my own race.”
And the third of the British trio Helen Jenkins, who was fifth at the last Olympics in London in 2012, admitted she wasn’t good enough after placing 19th in Copacabana.
“I haven’t been 100 per cent the last couple of days. I thought I was fine but when we got to the hill I didn’t really have that top end power,” she said.
“I don’t want to make excuses; I wasn’t good enough. It isn’t anything too serious, on this kind of course if you are a per cent off it is not going to happen.”