Swedes take 'one in a million' Olympic triathlon photo-finish ruling to court

Laura Norden and Nicola Spirig both finished the race with the same time but the Swiss triathlete was awarded the gold.

Story highlights

  • Photo finish in Olympic women's triathlon race was "a million to one odds"
  • Swedish Olympic and triathlon bodies take their appeal to sports court
  • International Triathlon Union had rejected earlier protests against last weekend's result
  • Former triathlete says Saturday's decision "could mean €100,000 to somebody"
It was a "million to one odds" that the Olympic women's triathlon race would end in a photo finish, but the outcome is again in doubt following Sweden's decision to appeal the result in sport's last-resort court.
The Swedish Olympic Committee (NOC) has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport following its failure to have Lisa Norden awarded the gold medal following last Saturday's event.
Switzerland's Nicola Spirig was adjudged to have crossed the line first after both women finished in one hour 59.43 seconds and was awarded victory despite protests from the Swedes.
Both the NOC and the Swedish Triathlon Federation failed to have the decision overturned after filing an official complaint to the International Triathlon Union (ITU).
Norden's fate now rests in the hands of the CAS, which will make a decision on Saturday in London. The ITU told CNN it could not comment on the case until after the verdict.
Hyde Park's London Games transformation
Hyde Park's London Games transformation

    JUST WATCHED

    Hyde Park's London Games transformation

MUST WATCH

Hyde Park's London Games transformation 03:45
A triathlon master class
A triathlon master class

    JUST WATCHED

    A triathlon master class

MUST WATCH

A triathlon master class 06:05
It was time an Olympic triathlon has been settled in such a manner, and former Australian triathlete Bridie O'Donnell was astonished by the close finish.
"It was a million to one odds," she told CNN.
"Perhaps it's a bit remiss of coaches not to work on the finishing styles of their athletes as one of the girls dipped her head and the other went with her chest.
"I just think that nobody ever expected such a close finish because you would expect after two hours of competition that there would be a bigger gap. I've never seen anything like it in all my time of watching triathlon."
O'Donnell said that Saturday's decision will have a huge impact on the winner.
"It's a shame that it has gone to CAS because the race has gone and the medal ceremony cannot be brought back, but you cannot underestimate how much that gold medal means because it can change somebody's life," she said.
"To normal people watching they just think about the race and some people will say that they should get on with it.
"But that gold could mean €100,000 ($123,000) to somebody and that's why the Swedish team are possibly appealing. I'm sure the Swiss would have done the same if it had been the other way around."
Now based in Colorado, O'Donnell has taken time out of her medical career to compete on the Pro-cycling circuit.
A qualified doctor and a seven-time national rowing champion, she has competed in several triathlons and Ironman competitions.
"I love triathlon and I thought that the Olympic race was gripping," O'Donnell said.
"I was watching it with a lot of people who weren't fans of triathlon and now they absolutely love it.
"I hope that the attention the sport is receiving will now help get people into it because it was really a wonderful spectacle."