Commonwealth Games 2014: Jonny faces an uphill task in the triathlon to win battle of the Brownlees

His only victories against Alistair have come when his brother has been suffering from illness or injury

The Romans may have had trouble conquering in these parts, their legions eventually getting pushed back south of Hadrian’s Wall, but it promises to be different for the Brownlee brothers – or, for one of the Yorkshiremen, at least – on the opening day of competition at the XX Commonwealth Games.

Having landed Olympic gold and bronze respectively against global opposition on home ground in Hyde Park in 2012, Alistair and Jonny will be the men to beat as they wend their way past the ruins of a Roman fort and bath house within the grounds of Strathclyde Country Park in the white-and-red team  colours of England this afternoon.

For Alistair, 26, it will be the chance to complete a full set of Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth titles. For Jonny, 24, it will be an opportunity to claim the scalp of his big brother on the big occasion of triathlon’s return to the Commonwealth Games.

Jonny’s only victories against Alistair at the Olympic – and Commonwealth – standard distance of 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run have come when his brother has been suffering from illness or injury. The bad news for him is that Alistair has returned from his latest ailment, an Achilles problem, to win the European Championship and Hamburg Triathlon World Series races.

“Alistair is very fit,” Jonny acknowledged. “And this course definitely suits him. It’s a very hard bike ride and that suits his aggressive racing. But I’ll try my best. In training we’ve been very similar, so all I can do is try – again.”


Alistair himself is intent on keeping his younger brother in check. “I got the better of him in Hamburg, which I think hurt him a little bit,” he said. “I’m hoping his confidence has taken a knock after that.

“Everything is fine with me. I’m fit and there’s nothing wrong, which is not something I’ve said very often in the last few years. The last few weeks have gone well.”

The Brownlees are partnered in the England team by Aaron Harris but the obvious threat to the brothers delivering a one-two finish is likely to be South African Richard Murray. He stands fourth in the world rankings and has secured two podium finishes in this year’s World Triathlon World Series.

Triathlon has only featured on the Commonwealth Games programme twice, in Manchester in 2002 and Melbourne in 2006, and no English athlete – male or female – has finished among the medals.

Kenya field a team for the first time this year and there are fears that some of their athletes might struggle in the open-water section. One of their women, Jessie de Boer, only took up triathlon in February.

The women’s race takes place first, starting at 11am, and England have a strong medal contender in Jodie Stimpson. The world No 2 has won World Series races in Cape Town and Auckland this year.