Jonny Brownlee ready to take centre stage at Tokyo Olympics

Jonny Brownlee is convinced it is his own “time to shine” in Tokyo but admits the absence of his double Olympic champion brother Alistair alongside him on the triathlon start line will have a major impact.

By Carl Livesey
Friday, 18th June 2021, 4:47 pm
TOP DOG: Jonny Brownlee celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the World Triathlon Cup in Arzachena Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images)
TOP DOG: Jonny Brownlee celebrates as he crosses the finish line at the World Triathlon Cup in Arzachena Emanuele Perrone/Getty Images)

Alistair Brownlee’s exclusion from the team for Japan was confirmed on Monday when the British Olympic Association announced Alex Yee as the second member of the men’s team for the games.

The 23-year-old had effectively sealed the decision by storming to victory in the World Triathlon Series race in Leeds last week while Alistair, who has been struggling with an ankle injury, was disqualified during the swim.

“I have been very fortunate to have Alistair next to me on the start-line in the last two Olympics and without him it is going to feel very, very different,” admitted Jonny Brownlee.

Great Britain's Alistair and Jonny Brownlee with their Gold and Silver medals for the Men's Triathlon at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Picture: Mike Egerton/PA

“But I like to think that I will be able to deal with it and it will hopefully be my time to shine now.

“These Olympics are going to be so different and this is just another little difference in the grand scheme of things.”

Jonny Brownlee, two years his brother’s junior, had grown used to battling away in Alistair’s shadow, first in London when he had to settle for bronze and again in Rio when he trailed his brother into the silver medal position.

Increasingly, however, while Alistair courted a future in the Ironman discipline, Jonny Brownlee’s persistence saw him emerge as a greater threat, culminating in his impressive World Triathlon Series win in Italy last month. His roar of delight at crossing the finish line emphasised his conviction that he will head to Tokyo capable of sustaining the family hold on gold - whilst banking on his brother’s help from home.

He added: “Alistair will still be there as someone to talk to, because there’s no-one better to seek advice from than the double Olympic champion.

“I’ll ask him when I have doubts about whether I’m training right, whether I’ve done things right and how I can do things better.

“One of the my proudest things in sport is that I have never felt jealousy towards what he has achieved.

“I’ve never crossed a finish line and thought, ‘Why is it him winning all the time and not me?’

“I think Ali is relieved the whole process is over now, the last few months have been turmoil for him with his injury, and he can now focus on surgery and rehabilitation.

“And he will always be on the end of the phone.”

Yee expressed his delight at being confirmed in the Great Britain team, having watched the Brownlee brothers surge to the top two places on the podium in London eight years ago.

“I know it’s a cliche, but I’m over the moon,” said London-born Yee.

“I was massively inspired after watching London 2012 in my home city and now to be selected to represent Team GB after the delay, Covid and the challenges everyone has been through, I am delighted.”