Jess Learmonth’s parents say watching her lead off triathlon relay was ‘torture’

·4-min read

The parents of Olympic gold medal-winning triathlete Jess Learmonth have described the “torture” of watching their daughter lead off the British team in the inaugural mixed relay.

Learmonth will be greeted at the airport when she returns to the UK on Monday night by parents Andrew and Beverley and her partner, Jon, who are all hoping for a look at her medal.

But her father said he will not be surprised if it is tucked away in her luggage as she is never one to trumpet her successes.

And Mr Learmonth said his daughter will have to be reminded to bring the gold medal to the family celebration planned for the weekend at his home near Boroughbridge, in North Yorkshire.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – Day Eight
Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth, Jonathan Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee on the podium with the gold medal (Danny Lawson/PA)

He said he has been out buying piles of gold bunting and balloons to add to the Union flag outside his house, but he said: “She’ll probably just show up in a t-shirt saying ‘I’m just going to my mum and dad’s for something eat’.

“She’ll have to be reminded that people will want to see the medal and track suit and everything.”

Mr Learmonth said he and his wife watched the nail-biting relay alone at home in the early hours of Saturday morning as his daughter started the first of the four legs for Team GB.

“She will openly admit she’s not a big lover of the relay because you’re in a team and you don’t want to let anyone down,” he said.

“Jessica’s never under pressure when she races on her own.

“She’s really calm.

“But in a relay you’ve got in the back of your mind you’ve got to perform for other people, not just yourself.”

Mr Learmonth said he felt quite comfortable during the 300m swim, which is his daughter’s best element, but his nerves were shredded after she led the field out of the water and across the blue carpet of the transition area.

Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown (right) is congratulated by Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth (Danny Lawson/PA)
Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown (right) is congratulated by Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth (Danny Lawson/PA)

“What if she slips?

“What if she runs to her bike and falls over?

“Those carpets get wet.

“Then there’s the helmet, oh God, oh God,” he said.

Mr Learmonth said he was willing the TV footage to focus on his daughter and, when it eventually did, he was relieved to see her safely away on her bike.

But he said when the run began he thought: “Right, this is going to be torture now, she’s got 2k to go.”

Mr Learmonth said it was a huge relief to see her coming down the final stretch to hand over to Jonny Brownlee.

He said: “I’ve got to say, it’s selfish in a way, but once she’d handed over to Jonny, and Jonny set off running, I took a deep breath and thought ‘that’s it, she’s done it’.

“It is a bit selfish but you think ‘our daughter’s race is over, she’s got through it, she’s safe, she’s got the team exactly where they needed to be, thank God for that’.”

Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, Jessica Learmonth, Alex Yee, and Georgia Taylor Brown celebrate gold (Danny Lawson/PA)
Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee, Jessica Learmonth, Alex Yee, and Georgia Taylor Brown celebrate gold (Danny Lawson/PA)

Mr Learmonth said he was able to relax a little for the remainder of the race but his thoughts turned to the agony of the families of the other three in the team.

“Once it finished, I don’t know what I thought, really,” he said.

“We weren’t jumping up and down on the sofa and opening bottles of champagne or anything.

“We just sat there thinking ‘wow, Jessica’s got an Olympic medal and it’s a gold one’.”

Mr Learmonth said they enjoyed watching his daughter interviewed after the race with her teammates Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee.

He said: “You can see the camaraderie in the group.

“A lot of people ask us, is it really like that?

“Yes, it is”.

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