COZUMEL (Mexico) • A dazed Jonny Brownlee was helped over the line by his brother Alistair, who shunned the chance to win himself in a dramatic end to the World Triathlon Series in Cozumel, Mexico, on Sunday.
Jonny, 26, went into the final race of the season in second place in the standings behind Spaniard Mario Mola, with the Olympic champion Alistair, 28, out of contention having missed earlier races.
The younger Brownlee needed to win the race - made up of a 1.5km swim, followed by a 40km bike ride and the 10km run - and Mola finishing no higher than fourth.
And that was exactly what looked set to happen after the brothers had again pushed the pace hard on the swim and bike legs.
Jonny was leading comfortably heading into the final kilometre of the run but then the heat began to take its toll and he started to weave across the course.
South African Henri Schoeman, who won bronze behind the Brownlees in Rio, overtook Jonny to win the race.
Jonny stopped at the side of the road but Alistair, who had been running in third, put his arm around his brother and carried him along the final few hundred metres and then pushed him across the line.
There was a protest but under triathlon rules, assistance from other competitors is allowed. And by finishing second with Mola in fifth, it was the Spaniard who took the title by only four points.
Alistair told the BBC: "It was a natural human reaction to my brother but for anyone I would have done the same thing. I think it's as close to death as you can be in sport."
But he was not all sympathy: "I wish the flipping idiot had just paced it right and won the race. He could have jogged the last 2km."
Jonny later tweeted from his hospital bed, saying he had suffered from dehydration: "Not how I wanted to end the season, but gave it everything.
"Thanks @AliBrownleetri, your loyalty is incredible."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE