Jessica Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown were in step with each other for much of the World Triathlon Olympic qualification event in Tokyo Thursday, and so as the British triathletes crossed the finish line before anyone else, they grabbed hands. That move ended up getting them both disqualified, the Guardian reports. The International Triathlon Union has a rule stating that athletes may not "finish in a contrived tie situation where no effort to separate the finish times has been made." A photo finish initially handed the victory to Learmonth, but both athletes were soon disqualified and an appeal was rejected. Flora Duffy of Bermuda ended up in first place and Alice Betto of Italy in second, the BBC reports, with another British athlete, Vicky Holland, ending up in third place. The athletes had battled severe heat and humidity during the morning event.
"It’s obviously disappointing to have Jess and Georgia disqualified but it’s a testament to the depth of our female squad that we still have another athlete on the podium," British Triathlon’s national performance director, Mike Cavendish, said. Ultimately, British Triathlon will choose three men and three women for its Olympic team, and a spokesperson says Learmonth, Taylor-Brown, and Holland will find out next May whether they were selected. "I really feel for Jess and Georgia because they raced exceptionally well and I feel like they absolutely smashed it and deserved the first and second finish," Holland said. "I don’t know how British Triathlon will choose things now. I wouldn’t want to be a selector." Learmonth and Taylor-Brown were too upset to talk with reporters. (Read more Olympic trials stories.)