Brownlee Olympic era leaves behind remarkable and unforgettable legacy - Nick Westby

The glorious Brownlee era ended as it should do in the early morning sunshine of Tokyo Marina on Saturday morning - in glorious gold.

By Nick Westby
Saturday, 31st July 2021, 11:45 am
CHAMPIONS: Jess Learmonth, Jonny Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee with their Olympic golds. Picture: Getty Images.
CHAMPIONS: Jess Learmonth, Jonny Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee with their Olympic golds. Picture: Getty Images.

The most honour-laden chapter of British triathlon, nay, world triathlon, nay one of the most storied in British sporting history, closed with a gold medal draped around the neck of Jonny Brownlee

This most humble son of Leeds is an Olympic champion at long last.

No longer does he have to restrain himself from touching brother Alistair Brownlee's gold medals.

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No longer does he have to sit at one end of the Brownlee dinner table and look up at his elder brother and stare in envy at the two golds around his neck.

Jonny is an Olympic champion at the third time of asking, and in the absence of Alistair, he did it with new and old friends; Jess Learmonth of Leeds, Georgia Taylor-Brown of the Leeds training hub and Alex Yee, who, you guessed it, used to train in Leeds.

To go with individual bronze in London nine years ago and individual silver in Rio four years later, Jonny has mixed team relay gold.

Like the brother he has trained with and looked up to, Jonny swims, cycles and runs off into the sunset - in his case the longer ironman distances - as an Olympic champion.

BROTHERS IN ARMS: Jonny and Alistair Brownlee after their silver and gold medals wins at Rio 2016. Picture: Getty Images.

It is a fitting way to sign off for a brotherhood that has dominated triathlon for over a decade.

They raised the bar with how they trained in their natural habitat of Yorkshire and how they performed on the global stage.

The Brownlees took triathlon from a quirky sidebar contested by adrenaline junkies to accepted recreational pursuit, all with a smile on their face and an understanding of the greater role in enhancing the sport their feats were accomplishing.

In all of sport, there are few more likeable individuals to interview than the Brownlees, for their candour, their humour and their passion.

ONE-TWO: Jonny and Alistair Brownlee with their Olympic medals from Rio. Picture: Getty Images.

Their legacy is a greater national interest in triathlon, the Brownlee Triathlon Centre in Leeds and a decade of success to build on. In what other sport in these Olympics did Team GB win a medal in every race? None.

The golden Brownlee era is over but it will never be forgotten, for what has accomplished and what it left behind.

It wasn't just an era, it was a dynasty of domination. And all of Yorkshire is proud of them.