Triathlon: Team GB's Alistair Brownlee wins gold as brother Jonny claims bronze medal
Tuesday 07 August 2012
Alistair and Jonny Brownlee made the Olympic triathlon a family affair today as they thrilled the huge Hyde Park crowd to take gold and bronze
There was a lot of pressure on the Yorkshire brothers, who finished last year ranked one and two in the world, but they lived up to expectations, albeit with a few dramas.
Jonny received a penalty for mounting his bike too early, which he had to take on the run, but by that point Alistair and Spain's two-time world champion Javier Gomez had pulled away.
Alistair then kicked again and moved clear of his rival, and he had time to collect a Union Jack on his way down the finishing straight before crossing the line to become Britain's first Olympic medallist in triathlon.
Jonny was not far behind but the 22-year-old then collapsed from his exertions and had to be treated in the medical room, delaying the medal ceremony for an hour.
Alistair admitted his primary emotion was relief, saying: "I was very tired, you just want to finish and have a sit down. You don't really have too much time to enjoy it.
"I'd run really hard, probably as hard as I've ever run to win that race. I was very proud and happy but my overwhelming feeling was just to get across the line and get it over and done with."
The pair are the first British siblings to win medals in an individual sport at the same Games since Reggie and Laurie Doherty also won gold and bronze in tennis in 1900.
They live and train together in the village of Bramhope near Leeds, and Alistair said: "I'm immensely proud that my brother could get a bronze.
"We made no secret of the fact we wanted to get both of us on the podium and that's not an easy thing to do considering Britain's never won a medal in triathlon.
"It shows the strength of training together, pushing each other on all the time and the relationship that we have."
There had been talk about other nations teaming up to try to beat the Brownlees but, aside from Gomez, they were never threatened.
The swim was led out by the brothers' training partner Richard Varga from Slovakia, with both Alistair, Jonny and Gomez in close attendance.
When they came out of the swim, the quartet formed a lead group along with Alessandro Fabian of Italy but they were caught by another group containing the third British team member, Stuart Hayes, on the third lap.
By that point Jonny already knew he had received a 15-second penalty but the group stayed together until the start of the run, with Hayes, who was in the race to help the Brownlees, doing a lot of the work to prevent attacks.
The brothers and Gomez immediately went to the front and quickly moved away from the rest of the field.
Gomez has had a disappointing couple of seasons and has been completely overshadowed by the Brownlees in the last couple of years but this was the 2008 and 2010 world champion back to his best.
Jonny took his penalty at the end of the third lap and emerged still well ahead of French pair David Hauss and Laurent Vidal, but the day ultimately belonged to his brother.
Alistair's time for the 10 kilometre run was only a minute and 37 seconds slower than Mo Farah's in winning the 10,000 metres on Saturday, while the 24-year-old would have beaten the last-placed athlete in that race.
Jonny did not think the penalty made a difference to his position, saying: "Javier had an incredible run today, his best ever run, so I don't think it would have changed the result.
"But a first and a third is great, a bronze medal is really good and I'm really pleased.
"It's the first penalty I've ever got. I didn't really realise I'd done anything wrong. At first when I saw the board I thought, 'oh number 31, Alistair's got a penalty, what an idiot'.
"Then I looked at my arm, saw 31, looked at the other arm, thought 'oh, I'm 31, oh dear'. It was the longest 15 seconds of my life. I'm not getting a penalty again."
Alistair hit out at the rules, adding: "I think penalties are a disgrace in triathlon, they're ruining the sport.
"They bring judgmental decisions into a sport that should be a simple you start and you finish and the first three across the line win medals.
"I thought if I could go off as hard as I could and only take Jonny with me then he could run back through the field but two brothers first and third, we can't really complain too much."
Jonny was not the first Brownlee to collapse at Hyde Park, with Alistair suffering what was then his first World Championship Series defeat when he fell over the finish line in 10th place in 2010.
Jonny said: "I crossed the line and I felt awful. Then I got into the tent afterwards and I felt worse and worse and I overheated, then I collapsed and I was sick and got taken to the medical tent.
"But that's part of triathlon, it's a hard sport. I'm feeling much better now, just a bit tired."
Alistair admitted Gomez caught him by surprise with his performance today but the former medical student always felt in control.
He said: "I was surprised how good Javier was today. It shows the great athlete that he is. He hasn't had a race like that possibly ever, especially not in the last couple of years.
"So it was great to battle with him but I felt like I had the upper hand, I knew I had a very fast kilometre in me so I was pretty comfortable."
The pair were roared on by an estimated 200,000 people, and Hayes was delighted to play his part in the greatest day in British triathlon history.
The Londoner said: "We've been training as a team for the last two months and it's paid off.
"Alistair and Jonny are amazing and they deserve everything they get. It's a very special moment. British Triathlon dreamt about this for the last three or four Olympics and finally we've done it in London."
Gomez had gone into the last Olympic in Beijing as the big favourite but came away without a medal, and he was happy to make amends.
The 29-year-old said: "For sure Beijing was a big disappointment for me. I had a lot of problems approaching that race with injury.
"Obviously you want the gold and I fought for everything but I am realistic as well. I know the Brownlees are really strong and they are not easy to beat. I am pleased with my second position.
"Alistair deserved this victory. He has dominated triathlon last year and this year. I was closer than the last races to him and that gives me the chance to beat him in the future. I couldn't ask for more."
Alistair Brownlee factfile
1988: Born on April 23 in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
2000: Already a keen fell and cross-country runner, Brownlee is introduced to triathlon by his uncle, Simon Hearnshaw.
2006: September 2 - Wins the world junior title in Lausanne. A straight A student, he wins a place at Cambridge to study medicine, following in the footsteps of his doctor parents, but drops out after a term to concentrate on triathlon.
October 7 - Adds the European junior title to his growing trophy cabinet.
2007: Defends his European junior title but can only finish second at the world juniors.
2008: May 25 - Qualifies for the Beijing Olympics with a third-place finish at the Madrid World Cup.
June 25 - Wins the world under-23 title in Vancouver.
August 18 - Leads for a long time on his Olympic debut but tires towards the end of the run and finishes 12th, the first British athlete home.
2009: May 31 - Produces a stunning display to win the World Championship Series race in Madrid.
August 15 - After winning races in Washington and Kitzbuhel, Brownlee wins again in Hyde Park.
September 9 - Crowns a brilliant season by winning the Grand Final on Australia's Gold Coast to be crowned world champion, the only man ever to win junior, under-23 and senior world titles.
2010: June 5 - Misses the start of the season with a stress fracture but returns in Madrid and wins again, his sixth World Series victory in a row.
July 3 - Crowned European champion for the first time with a dominant performance in Athlone, Ireland.
July 24 - The favourite to win for a second year in a row in Hyde Park, Brownlee is affected by a slight stomach upset and cracks in the final kilometre of the run, collapsing over the line in 10th place before being rushed to the medical tent.
September 8 - Brownlee is still affected by his dramatic collapse when he can only finish 40th in Kitzbuhel three weeks later but he recovers to win the Grand Final in Budapest, although he loses his world title to rival Javier Gomez.
2011: June 4 - A fall in the opening race of the season in Sydney sees him finish well down the field but once again he is untouchable over his favourite course in Madrid, winning for a third year in a row.
August 6 - A second European title and victory in Kitzbuhel follow before he storms to victory over the Olympic course in Hyde Park, all but booking his place in London.
August 21 - Part of the British quartet along with brother Jonny, Helen Jenkins and Jodie Stimpson that win the world team title in Lausanne.
September 9 - Untouchable again as he dominates the Grand Final in Beijing to win his second world title.
2012: June 23 - An Achilles injury threatens to ruin his Olympic season but he returns to fitness in time for the World Series race in Kitzbuhel and shows he is definitely the man to beat with a stunning victory.
August 7 - Wins Olympic gold medal in London, finishing ahead of Gomez and brother Jonny, who takes the bronze medal.
Jonny Brownlee factfile
1990: Born on April 30 in Leeds.
2006: Follows his brother Alistair into triathlon and finishes second at a junior European Cup race in Salford to show his potential.
2007: Finishes fifth at the European Junior Championships in Copenhagen and follows it up with 15th in the World Junior Championships in Hamburg.
2008: Brownlee shows his progress by getting on the podium at both the World and European Junior Championships, winning bronze in both.
2009: July 2 - Achieves the biggest victory of his career to that point by winning the European junior title in Holten, Holland.
July 11 - Makes his debut in the elite World Championship series in Kitzbuhel, finishing 13th, and then follows it up with a 26th place in the Hyde Park race.
September 9 - As brother Alistair wins his first senior world title, Brownlee finishes second in the junior version on Australia's Gold Coast.
2010: July 24 - Makes his senior breakthrough by finishing second in the World Series race in Hyde Park.
August 21 - Wins his first senior world title at the World Sprint Championships in Lausanne.
September 8 - Dominates the race to win the world under-23 title in Budapest, following in his brother's footsteps.
2011: Shows he is now among the world's elite with second-placed finishes in the World Series races in Sydney and Madrid and at the European Championships, the latter two behind his brother.
August 6 - A third-placed finish in Hyde Park is enough to all but book Brownlee's place at his first Olympics in London.
August 20 - Defends his world sprint title and then teams up with his brother, Helen Jenkins and Jodie Stimpson to win the world team title in Lausanne a day later.
September 9 - Finishes third at the Grand Final in Beijing to claim second place in the World Championship Series behind Alistair.
2012: May 10 - With Alistair injured, Brownlee claims his first World Series victory in San Diego.
May 26 - Follows that up by winning in Madrid, ensuring a Brownlee victory over the Casa de Campo course for a fourth straight year.
June 23 - Has to settle for second in Kitzbuhel as his brother returns to action with a dominant performance.
August 7 - Wins Olympic bronze medal, finishing behind brother Alistair who takes gold and Spain's Javier Gomez.
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