Team England para-cyclists photobomb ceremony after Commonwealth Games mix up

Commonwealth Games rules stated that the bronze medal race should never have taken place. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

BIRMINGHAM, England -- When para-cyclists Sophie Unwin and Georgia Holt crossed the line, the jumbo screens above displayed a message to confirm their victory: They had won a bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

There was one issue though -- it didn't exist.

Unwin had been in the middle of her post-race interviews after placing third in the in the tandem B sprint when she was told to go to the podium to collect her medal, only to be told she would not be awarded it. The bronze medal final, according to Commonwealth Games rules, should not have happened in the first place.

Five teams initially entered the event at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, but only four started, which means only gold and silver medals can be awarded under Games rules. Officials did not seem to know that, though, staging a bronze medal final anyway, which Unwin and Holt won against Scotland's Libby Clegg and pilot Jenny Holl.

The incident left Unwin in tears, but the English pair refused to let their moment be spoiled. They photobombed the ceremony, standing behind the barriers of the bronze platform before being moved on by security.

Unwin, who won Paralympic road race silver at Tokyo 2020 and individual pursuit bronze, and her pilot Holt re-emerged soon after to take photos with borrowed bronze medals on the podium.

A Team England spokesperson told ESPN they are "in discussion" with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) about the incident.

A CGF spokesperson told ESPN: "In the small number of cases where there are fewer than five entries in a Commonwealth Games event, the CGF applies a medal allocation policy to maintain the integrity of competition.

"The policy -- which was published in January this year -- states that only gold and silver medals are awarded where there are only four contestants; and only gold medals where there are only three or two contestants.

"Unfortunately, while the athletes in the women's tandem B sprint event were informed of this before the race, the scoreboard and results sheet incorrectly indicated that it was a bronze medal race. We apologise to the athletes involved for the inadvertent distress this has caused."