A dazed Jonny Brownlee was denied a second world title despite being helped over the line by his brother Alistair in a dramatic end to the World Triathlon Series.
With just 700 metres of the race to go, Jonny, who was leading began to fade dramatically and was about to collapse.
His brother Alistair, who had been in third place helped him to the finishing line and second place.
Speaking after the race, Alistair said: ‘If he’d conked out before the finish line and there wasn’t medical support it could have been really dangerous.’
Jonny went into the final race of the season in Cozumel, Mexico in second place in the standings behind Spaniard Mario Mola, with Olympic champion Alistair out of contention having missed earlier races.
Alistair admitted that he wanted to help his brother win the world championship as he was no longer in with a chance. He admitted conditions were difficult. ‘You have to race the conditions. I’ve done what I wanted to do for the season so I wasn’t going to put it on the line today.
‘I was quite comfortable, thinking I’m going to get second or third. I made sure I took lots of water on, made sure I kept myself cool and I was alright.’
Jonny needed to win the race and Mola finish 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 10km 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 comfortably in third, put his arm around his brother and all but carried him along the final few hundred metres and then pushed him across the line.
By finishing second with Mola in fifth, it was the Spaniard who took the title by just four points.
Alistair suffered similar drama in Hyde Park in 2010, and he told the BBC: ‘It’s an awful position to be in.
‘If he’d conked out before the finish line and there wasn’t medical support it could have been really dangerous.
‘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.’
Not that Alistair was all sympathy, with the two-time Olympic champion adding: ‘I wish the flipping idiot had just paced it right and won the race. He could have jogged the last 2km.’
After recovering from his ordeal, Johnny posted a video of the dramatic end to the race where he wrote: ‘Normally when you have had too much to drink. This time it was the opposite #ouch.’
He posted a picture of himself giving a thumbs-up sign as he lay in hospital and a picture of his runners-up trophy, also paying tribute to his brother by saying: ‘Not how I wanted to end the season, but gave it everything. Thanks @AliBrownleetri, your loyalty is incredible.’
He added: ‘Well done @mariomola and @H-Schoeman. Also thanks to the @worldtriathlon and @BritTri medical care. I couldn’t have been in better hands.’
Jessica Ennis Hill tweeted: ‘Incredible! I have so much respect for @AliBrownleetri and @jonny_brownlee #sportatitsbest’.
According to British Triathlon, the Spanish Federation lodged an appeal over Jonny Brownlee receiving assistance, but the international jury ruled the brothers had not broken any regulations as athletes can help each other or receive assistance from technical or race officials.
Tweeting from his hospital bed, Jonny said: ‘Not how I wanted to end the season, but gave it everything. Thanks @AliBrownleetri, your loyalty is incredible.’