Rio 2016: Leeds’ Brownlee brothers excel once again to clinch memorable Rio double

OH BROTHER: Leeds's Alistair Brownlee (left) and brother Jonny embrace after winning Gold and Silver in the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.
OH BROTHER: Leeds's Alistair Brownlee (left) and brother Jonny embrace after winning Gold and Silver in the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.
0
Have your say

Alistair Brownlee will be the only Olympic gold medallist able to pick his moment to cross the finish line.

Such is his dominance in the triathlon that the 28-year-old could draw in the cheers on the Copacabana setting and wander over the finish line to grasp his moment of greatness.

FOLLOW MY LEADER: Alistair Brownlee (left) and brother Jonny Brownlee (right) exit the water during the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

FOLLOW MY LEADER: Alistair Brownlee (left) and brother Jonny Brownlee (right) exit the water during the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

Caressing a Union flag in his right hand, together with a Yorkshire one alongside, Brownlee waited for his younger brother Jonny to come into eye-shot before lifting the plastic tape covering the finish line.

As Jonny joined him across the line, the pair collapsed to the floor with emotion and exhaustion pouring out.

It was an image that underlined how one family has ruled the three-discipline sport in the last seven years and one that will be iconic to the Rio Games.

Alistair said: “I can’t remember which one of us said it, but it was very much ‘we’ve done it’. We’ve trained so hard together for this and it’s fantastic.

SIBLING RIVALRY: Leeds's Alistair Brownlee (left) on his bike alongside brother Jonny during the cycling section of the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

SIBLING RIVALRY: Leeds's Alistair Brownlee (left) on his bike alongside brother Jonny during the cycling section of the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

“There’s nothing like doing it at the Olympic Games and that’s what we’ve done today.”

Superlatives are running thin to describe the athletic ability of Bramhope’s finest siblings who have now won 17 medals between them at Olympic and World Championships.

It was gold and bronze for the pair in London four years ago

But there was no Javier Gomes – silver medallist in 2012 – in the Rio field due to injury time and Spanish dangerman Mario Mola was left behind on the 40km cycle route.

Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee leads from brother Jonny during the running section of the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

Great Britain's Alistair Brownlee leads from brother Jonny during the running section of the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

The Brownlees controlled the race as well as they could have imagined and led from the opening moments of the bike leg.

However, it was not as happy a race for fellow Leeds athlete Gordon Benson, who was forced to retire from the race after crashing out during the 40km cycle.

Benson had already fallen off the fast pace set by a leading pack of ten, with Alistair and Jonny taking it in turns to force the issue at the front.

Off the third transition, the Brownlees were only joined by Vincent Luis in a leading trio on the run.

Leeds's Alistair Brownlee celebrates winning gold in the Men's Triathlon at Fort Copacabana in Rio. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

Leeds's Alistair Brownlee celebrates winning gold in the Men's Triathlon at Fort Copacabana in Rio. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

But the Frenchman’s challenge soon wavered in the searing Brazil sun leaving the Leeds brothers to battle it out over the remaining 9km.

Jonny had done most of the work setting the tempo on the road and he could not live with Alistair’s increase when he stretched his legs.

As they reached the midway point on the road, Alistair opened out an advantage of 15 seconds and that was never closed.

By the finish, Alistair had built a half-minute advantage and he grasped a flag from a member of the crowd and cruised onto the blue carpet like a celebrity adoring sports supporters.

Alistair said: “It never goes exactly to plan.

“We wanted to get out of the swim as quickly as we could and really ride hard on the first two laps of the bike and we did that and got the gap.

Great Britain's Alistair and Jonny Brownlee with their Gold and Silver medals for the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

Great Britain's Alistair and Jonny Brownlee with their Gold and Silver medals for the Men's Triathlon. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA.

“That’s where the one and two came from.

“You train so hard you never think about winning it. I got onto that blue carpet and I knew the gap was good.

“In London, I had Gomez chasing me down so I really wanted to enjoy it.”

No triathlete had ever retained their title in the sport’s 16-year history in the Games.

And Alistair could yet secure a legacy that may never be equalled in four years time – although he was non-committal towards the future.

“The odds are it won’t happen again,” he added.

“Four years is a long time to Tokyo but I don’t think we should be thinking about that at the moment.

“I think we should just enjoy what we’ve pulled off today and be really appreciative that these last three months of training went so well and we managed to get the race to go our way.”

For Jonny, Tokyo may represent his best opportunity should Alistair’s levels begin to wain at the age of 32.

As he raced on the streets of Rio, he admitted there was a sense of ‘here we go again’ as he played second fiddle to his all-conquering brother.

The 26-year-old said: “I had a very good swim and on the bike I felt great and controlled.

“I might have done a bit too much work on the bike but when we got to the run Alistair was too strong for me and these hard races suit him a bit better than me.

“A bit of me thought ‘here we go again’ but I was confident I’d hold onto second but he got his gap and it just stayed.”

Leeds pair Non Stanford and Vicky Holland will aim to give Yorkshire more to cheer in the women’s race tomorrow.

Stanford won the World Championships in 2013 and is considered as an outside contender for the medals.

Britain's Mick Hill throws the javelin on his way to winning the silver medal at the European Track and Field Championships in Budapest, Sunday Aug. 23, 1998. (AP Photo/Dave Caulkin)

Leeds City Athletics Club: Celebrating half a century of an athletic institution