Jess Learmonth is the rock on which Georgia Taylor-Brown’s remarkable Olympic triathlon silver medal was build.

The Yorkshire star, a national freestyle champion in her own right with City of Leeds Swimming Club, led best friend Taylor-Brown out on the swim stage to set up her perfect race. 

There was only room for one of them on the podium as Taylor-Brown overtook her Leeds Triathlon Centre training partner in the early stages of the run, with Learmonth finishing ninth.

Learmonth were bursting with pride at her team-mate’s medal, earned on Games debut and Team GB’s eighth in Tokyo.

“I’m extremely proud,” said the 33-year-old.

“Most people don’t understand or know much about what she’s been through. You wouldn’t believe how talented she is. 

“I cried when we came over the start line - and I never cry. Georgia and Vicky (Holland) are always crying but I don’t! I wish everyone would know how amazing she is.” 

It later emerged that Taylor-Brown had concealed a serious femur injury from the world, giving illness as her reason from pulling out of the World Triathlon Series race in Leeds last month. 

Learmonth’s power in the water saw her cover the 1500m swim in 18:24 and single-handedly steered a group of seven, including Taylor-Brown, to a lead of more than 30 seconds.

“That’s pretty much what I do most of the time,” she said of the swim.

“I try to set the pace high to get a breakaway. It was better to have a small group in the wet conditions. That was the plan.

She pulled her weight in the bike pack and her heart must have sank when Taylor-Brown was struck by a flat back tyre in the final kilometre of the 40km ride, but the 27-year-old recovered to burst onto the rostrum.

The race was shaped by Typhoon Nepartak, that struck Tokyo in the early hours of the morning and brought heavy rain and high winds, with slippery course conditions wreaking havoc.

“We were meant to be wearing ice vests and then went to dry robe,” said Learmonth, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding – which has never been more important in getting her to the start line after a turbulent year.

“Then the sun came out on the run just to add to things. It was quite dramatic. 

“All the preparation we’d done went out of the window really. It was tough conditions but that’s what it’s like in triathlon, you’ve got to roll with it. 

“I really enjoyed it and we’re pretty proud of our little G.” 

Taylor-Brown was quick to credit Learmonth for her role in keeping her on a level through a fraught Olympic build-up.

“Jess is my rock, she calms me down and tells me everything’s going to be OK,” she said.

“She puts a smile on my face and I know everything’s going to be fine.”

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