Alistair Brownlee is determined to defy Queensland’s shark-infested waters and put the bite on his rivals when he defends his Commonwealth Games triathlon crown in Gold Coast tomorrow.
The 29-year-old from Leeds received a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking in the shallows when he had a close encounter with a shark hook during a sea swim in training last week.
Although the introduction of its shark control programme in 1962 has dramatically reduced the rate of incidents, there have been five fatal shark attacks off Queensland this century.
Brownlee, who will carry the England flag at this morning’s opening ceremony said: “I have spent a lot of time in the sea since I have got out here and we did a big sea swim last Friday.
“I was right out there and I saw the shark hooks, which are set out to catch them if any happen to be around. I swam past and they were about 10 metres away and I just thought, ‘woah’.”
Brownlee and his rivals, including younger brother Jonny, must traverse 750m of the Southport Broadwater, in which a 2.5m bull shark was caught lurking as recently as 2015.
I was right out there and I saw the shark hooks, which are set out to catch them if any happen to be around. I swam past and they were about 10 metres away and I just thought, ‘woah’.Alistair Brownlee
Marine predators notwithstanding, the elder Brownlee’s defence of his title is far from a foregone conclusion after a season hampered by his recovery from a major hip operation as well as some time out to focus on longer-distance races.
Brother Jonny arrived on the Gold Coast having had by far the better preparations, potentially making him a slight favourite to finally get one over his brother at a major Games.
For Alistair, who once seriously considered targeting either the 10,000m or marathon at the Gold Coast Games, his future path remains far from certain with the Tokyo Olympics almost two years away.
Brownlee added: “I’ve had a fantastic career and I have to pinch myself about how well it’s gone but I’m never sure how good the body or the motivation is going to be.
“I’ve really enjoyed my step up to long-distance racing and I am going to pursue that at some point but I’m not 100 per cent sure if that is going to be before or after Tokyo.
“It was a bit different and a bit easier on the body in some ways, but I also think it’s been really good mentally for me to have had a bit of a different focus.”
Brownlee said he was pleased with the recognition afforded his sport after being chosen to be England flag-bearer. “Growing up watching major Games on TV it was always a big deal to me who was carrying the flag, and I never in a million years thought a triathlete would get to do it.”
Indian boxing team doctor Amol Patil has received a reprimand from the Commonwealth Games Federation’s court for breaches of its no-needle policy.
Syringes were found in the athletes’ village, prompting an investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority and the CGF’s medical commission followed by a CGF court hearing.
Dr Patil, attending his first Commonwealth Games, administered vitamin B by injection to an athlete who was feeling unwell.
The CGF court found that Dr Patil had breached the no-needle policy by leaving needles in the room while he went to the athletes’ village polyclinic to obtain bins for their disposal.
Under the no-needle policy, needles are required to be stored in a central secured location with restricted access.