Tokyo 2020: our predictions for who will medal

The 220 team and contributors share who they think will medal at the Olympics - who do you agree with?

Tokyo 2020: our predictions for who will medal

Tim Heming

It’s three gold medals for Team GB if 220’s columnist is correct in his pickings…

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Compared to 2020, Rio 2016 was a stroll along the Copacabana… and I’m only talking about the predictions. But in what is an uncertain race in uncertain conditions in an uncertain sport against an uncertain build-up, I’m certain I’ll be proved correct with these!
I’ve made my life easier by predicting that both races will split up from the get-go. So, while we might have some super fast runners in the ranks, I’m betting that given the make-up of the field and the twists and turns on the bike course it will come down to those who can best swim and bike. And, like always, I’ve been completely biased to the Brits.

Men

1. Jonny Brownlee, GBR
2. Henri Schoeman, SA
3. Vincent Luis, FRA
For all your Alex Yees (sorry Alex) and Morgan Pearsons and Hayden Wildes, I’ve picked three of the best swim-bikers that also have the big stage experience, and whether Olympic, Commonwealth or World Triathlon Grand Final, are proven winners. 2018 Commonwealth champ and Rio bronze medallist Schoeman will exceed expectations again, Luis has more than enough ability to score the Olympic medal he should have won in Rio, and as for Jonny. It’s finally his time. Fingers crossed, it’s his time.

Women

1. Georgie Taylor-Brown, GBR
2. Flora Duffy, BER
3. Jess Learmonth, GBR
You front pack aces will be the first three over the line. Speaking to GT-B ahead of the Games, despite not having really raced this year, she sounded relaxed and happy – which is enough of a sign for me that she’ll go well. Duffy is Duffy, brilliant at it all – especially those tight turns on the bike – and Leeds showed that the torrid time with injury is behind her. Learmonth will drive this show from the hooter, get rid of the rivals, and still have enough for bronze.

Mixed Relay

1. Great Britain
2. France
3. USA
It’s the final leg and Alex Yee outkicks Vincent Luis who outkicks Morgan Pearson. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Alex Yee crossing finish line at Leeds triathlon 2021

Liz Barrett

220’s deputy editor and our go-to pro-athlete expert says that there will be four medals for Team GB but no golds.

Women

Gold – Flora Duffy, BER
The two-time ( 2016and 2017) world and 2018 commonwealth champion has been plagued by injury over the last two years, but a fourth place at the Leeds WTCS in June, where she clocked the fastest 10k time, hints at what could be a tremendous return to form in Tokyo.

Silver – Georgia Taylor-Brown, GBR
Heading into a Games as the reigning world champion can be both a blessing and a curse. Add in zero World Triathlon race experience this year and predictions become even harder to make. But we’d be very surprised if GB’s Taylor-Brown comes home empty handed from the individual competition.

Bronze – Jess Learmonth, GBR
Despite very little run training in 2021 due to injury, the 33-year-old swim supremo heads to Tokyo with a second-place finish at Leeds under her race belt plus the knowledge that, DSQ aside, she knows how to win over the Olympic course. In 2019, she crossed the finish line hand in hand with teammate Taylor-Brown, but on the day we think GT-B will have the edge for silver.

Men

Kristian Blummenfelt

Gold – Kristian Blummenfelt, NOR
Have you seen this guy race?! The 27-year-old Norwegian leaves everything out there and then some, and you can’t help but draw comparisons to those two brothers from Yorkshire for his hammer-down-from-start-to-finish approach. Unlike his peers, he’s been prolific on the World Triathlon race circuit this year, with two wins and three top-10s. Does he have enough left for Tokyo? Our prediction – yes, and in very large spades.

Silver – Vincent Luis, FRA
Had we been asked to predict the men’s podium at the end of 2020 then the two-time French world champion would have been our pick for gold. But having only raced Yokohama in May, where he finished sixth, and choosing not to race the Tokyo Test Event in 2019, we’re playing it (perhaps too) safe. But again, we’d be surprised, and very disappointed for this remarkable athlete, if he didn’t medal at his third Games.

Bronze – Alex Yee, GBR
Controversial – no Jonny Brownlee in our top three. But it’s his 23-year-old teammate Yee (who’s just one year younger than Alistair was when he won his first gold in London) who will have the eyes of the world on him come the 26th of July (25th in UK, 10:30pm) thanks to his incredible 10k talent. He finished 33rd at the Test Event, but that was two years ago. Thanks to the one-year delay to the Games, Yee’s form is now podium-polished.

Mixed Relay

Gold – France
The three-time mixed relay world champions head to Japan with a target on their back. There’s little weakness across all four legs, whether they choose Dorian Coninx or Leo Bergere to join Leonie Periault and Cassandre Beaugrand, before one of the sport’s top athletes Vincent Luis takes it home on the final leg.

Silver – Great Britain
The same could be said of Team GB of course, who have the stronger individual athletes compared to their Channel neighbours. On the flipside, because of that strength, all five won’t be as fresh come the relay event five/four days later. Still, whichever two women they choose, plus Brownlee and Yee on the final leg, will be a formidable quartet for medal contention.

Bronze – USA
The Relays are a tricky one to predict as a lot depends on the recovery of the athletes after their individual events. Some countries, for example Switzerland, Denmark and Italy, will be prioritising the relay event, so could cause upset in the Japanese heat. But the USA team, like the Brits, have a strong line-up of athletes to choose from, plus they have form having finished second behind France at last year’s Worlds in Hamburg… where Team GB finished third.

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Martyn Brunt

Our esteemed weekend warrior says it’ll be two golds for Team GB… but no medals in the men’s race!

Men

Gold – Vincent Luis, FRA
A friend of mine ran a marathon in Tokyo and described it as “hotter than the surface of the sun” so I’m going with Vincent for gold because he seems to thrive in the heat. Plus he’s world champion, so there is that.
Silver – Morgan Pearson, USA
American friends have been bending my ear about what a good bet he is for a medal, so I’m taking them at their word. He seems to train like a maniac, which is a definite plus as far as I’m concerned.
Bronze – Kristian Blummenfelt, NOR
Kristian will either win a medal or DNF. I like that. Quite prepared to do something mad and dare defeat in order to gain victory. Yes to this sort of thing.

Women

Georgia Taylor-Brown
Gold – Georgia Taylor-Brown, GBR
She’s British, and I’m biased, but happily she’s also prodigiously talented and has the nerve to produce her best performance on the biggest day.
Silver – Taylor Knibb, USA
Blame my American friends again, but fair do’s she’s a bike monster and if she can get free of the pack then people will have to run themselves into the ground to catch her.
Bronze – Maya Kingma, NED
Another bike beast and likely to thrive on Tokyo’s technical course. If she and Taylor Knibb work together to get away then she might have enough in the run legs to hold off the chasers.

Relay

Gold – Great Britain
There’s no one in the world I’d rather have on the anchor leg of a relay than Alex Yee. I don’t drive as fast as he runs.
Silver – Japan
The host nation always pops up and wins a medal, so I’m playing the odds and backing Japan in the relay. I might even have a few quid on it at their price.
Bronze – Australia
Tough choice between them and the USA but I’m going with the Aussies because they ALWAYS win something. It’s as predictable as me forgetting my race belt.

Rob Slade

If 220’s features editor is right it will be two golds and a bronze for GB, but how will they fall?

Women

Gold – Georgia Taylor-Brown, GBR
Britain heads into the Games with a wealth of top talent in its arsenal and it’s impossible to look past one of our own for gold. Taylor-Brown has impressed ever since her senior debut in 2018. Regular podium finishes over the past two years demonstrate her class and, while she’s not been very active on the race circuit this year, an Olympic gold is definitely a possibility.

Silver – Flora Duffy, BER

Few would bet against Duffy standing on the podium this summer, and I’m not going to be one of them. With two world titles, a Commonwealth Games gold and numerous wins, she has the knowhow and experience to get a result when she needs to. Injury may have disrupted her past couple of seasons, but recent results show she still has what it takes to compete at the top.

Bronze – Katie Zaferes, USA
There were a lot of raised eyebrows when Zaferes was named in the USA team over the consistent Taylor Spivey and there’ll probably be a few in reaction to this prediction. Zaferes had a stellar season in 2019, winning five World Triathlon races en route to the world title, but things have been tough since then. She crashed at the Olympic test event and then sadly lost her father. Recent results haven’t been great, but form is temporary and class is permanent, as they say. A medal in Tokyo would be the perfect way to honour her late father.

Men

Gold – Vincent Luis, FRA
This man has performed consistently for years, landing podium after podium. A world title in 2019 remains his crowning glory, but an Olympic medal surely isn’t far away. He’s not raced much since the turn of the year, but did secure sixth place in Yokohama. As long as he’s not under-baked, his experience and racing nous should be enough to land him gold.

Silver – Kristian Blummenfelt, NOR
Blummenfelt has been in fine fettle over the past year. While many of his competitors have competed in a limited number of events, the Norwegian has been racing, and winning, regularly. This, combined with his consistency over the years, is enough to convince this journalist that he’ll be standing on that podium come race day.

Bronze – Alex Yee, GBR
It’s time for the new kid on the block to take the mantle. Yee has hit form at just the right time with his win at WTCS Leeds, which came just a few weeks after an impressive showing in the heat of Yokohama, where he came home in fourth. The latter bodes well for a race in similar conditions, while his running pedigree means he has what it takes should the race go down to the wire. Bronze beckons, but greater things are surely to come…

Relay

Gold – Great Britain
With such a strong team, how could you not tip Britain for the win? We’ve faced stiff competition over the years from France and USA, but this is our time. Jonny Brownlee brings the experience, Yee brings youthful exuberance and a lightening quick run, while all three British women have more than earned their stripes over the past couple of years. And we only need two of them!

Silver – USA
Like us, the USA team has strength in depth. Morgan Pearson has burst onto the scene with great running pedigree, while Kevin McDowell was picked with this event in mind. Meanwhile, Zaferes, Summer Rappaport and Taylor Knibb are no slouches. They pipped us to silver at the Worlds, but we’ll have the edge this summer.

Bronze – France
The French have been frontrunners on the relay circuit for a little while now and are surely favourites for this event. They’re not going to win, though. They have undoubted quality in Luis and Cassandre Beaugrand, but Britain has the speed and experience to bring this one home.