Brothers keep loyal to roots

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Alistair Brownlee wants to continue in the footsteps of Lizzie Armitstead by bringing Olympic medals back home to Leeds.

Otley’s Armitstead started the British medal push last Sunday by winning the silver medal in the women’s road race at London 2012.

It is the turn of Alistair and his brother Jonny Brownlee next Tuesday in the Olympic triathlon.

The brothers are red-hot favourites to win gold and silver and write one of the great stories of the Games.

They have continued their preparations for the Games at their home in Bramhope, where in between training sessions, the deeds of Armitstead and the British Olympians have proven inspirational.

“It was great to see Lizzie Armitstead win our first medal on Sunday in tough conditions,” said 24-year-old Alistair.

“I’m pleased to see that the Yorkshire athletes have got off to a good start.”

Champion

The two-time world and European champion and his brother will head down to London tomorrow to finalise their preparations.

For the past week, though, they have been training as normal around their home and their surrounding area, and have been overcome by the support they have received from the local community.

“We’ve got loads of family and friends coming down to watch us and loads of people have been stopping us to wish us luck which is really nice,” said Alistair.

“Our local bakery in Bramhope has baked us a good luck brownie!

“We’re really grateful for all the support we’ve had locally and it’d be nice to come back to Leeds with a medal or two.

“Over the last couple of weeks we’ve just been training as normal. We were in St Moritz training at altitude and came back to Yorkshire two weeks ago to prepare for the Olympics.

“We’ve not been doing anything different to what we would be doing for any other race – just because it’s the Olympics it doesn’t mean that you train differently.

“We’ll just treat it like any other race, so this week we’re tapering with an “easy week” in preparation for racing on Tuesday.”

It was a brave decision to shun the trappings of the Olympic village for the first week of the Games, particularly for Jonny, who is making his Games debut at London 2012. Alistair raced in Beijing four years ago before he took the world by storm 12 months later by winning the World Series title.

Jonny has emerged over the past year as his No 1 contender for gold in Hyde Park. While Alistair nursed an Achilles injury back to full health, Jonny made hay, claiming maiden wins in the World Series events in San Diego and Madrid. Normal service was resumed in Kitzbuhel with Alistair first and Jonny second.

Pure

Since returning from their high altitude camp in Switzerland, where the thinner air improves their endurance, the Brownlees have been back running, cycling and swimming side by side in the good old pure air of Wrst Yorkshire.

World No 2 Jonny said: “Being at home at the moment means that we have our usual routine, and that will give us an advantage as we’re not having to get used to new surroundings or worry about finding somewhere to train.

“We won’t travel down to London until tomorrow, where we’ll stay in a hotel close to Hyde Park. Lots of people have been telling me they’ve spotted Alistair and myself on the BT billboards that are around at the moment. And I must admit it’s quite strange seeing yourself up there!

“I guess our profile’s a bit higher now but it’s great to have that support and we don’t really feel any pressure – we’ll just treat it as another race!”

The countdown cranked up a notch for 22-year-old Jonny last Friday night when the brothers sat and watched that moving and emotional opening ceremony.

He said: “We watched the opening ceremony on TV last Friday which got me really excited about the prospect of competing at my first Olympic Games.

“At the moment we’ve been watching the odd event here and there but mostly focused on training and doing everything we can to prepare for our race.”

The Olympic triathlon begins at 11.30am on Tuesday when the boys dive head long alongside 53 other triathletes into the Serpentine for the 1,500m swim.

Laps

They then get out of the lake and head to the transition area where they collect their bikes and set off on the 43km cycle leg, which is broken down into seven laps of a 6.137km course around the park. Then it’s off the bikes and into the run, comfortably the boys’ strongest discipline –not that they have a weakness in the swim or cycle.

The run is 10km, entailing four laps of a 2.5km course.

With the preparations almost complete, the Brownlee brothers head down to London 2012 with the backing of their home city.

nick.westby@ypn.co.uk

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