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Fri 19th Aug 2022
© Delly Carr / ITU Media /
The Brownlee brothers target Rio success
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Monday 23rd November 2015

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Alistair Brownlee on Rio 2016: "anything less than winning I would think is a failure"

It's been a busy few weeks for the Brownlee brothers. Post-season is when a lot of non-triathlon activities and sponsorship commitments fall, and having recently been working on behalf of the Government in Hong Kong, they returned to attend the launch of the 2016 Boardman Bikes range (check out our highlights from that HERE), their long-time bike sponsors.

I took the opportunity to sit down with Alistair and Jonny in central London and talk about their expectations for 2016 following the announcement of their pre-selection for the Rio Olympic Games, why peaking for the big events is what motivates them how the 2015 Gold Coast race was the "best all round triathlon I've ever done" according to Jonathan.

You have just returned from Hong Kong where you've both been doing something very different and removed from the triathlon world. Can you tell us about that and what the experience was like?

AB: It was very different - we were actually working for the Government as UK Trade and Investment Ambassadors as part of the the Britain is GREAT campaign. It was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very busy, we had lots of work on and different kinds of events with all sorts of different people, basically selling Britishness and how great a country Britain is at everything from schools to engineering to architecture to design. It was fun, I enjoyed it.

JB: It was a very different place to anywhere I've been before. Coming from Yorkshire to a big, big city with incredibly high buildings that was incredibly busy - but it was exciting. No one seems to sleep there, everyone seems to be working all the time. I do enjoy going to different places and Hong Kong certainly was a different place.

©Delly Carr /

One big triathlon news story that pretty much coincided with your trip was the announcement of your pre-selection for the Olympic Games next year. Given that the end of both of your seasons didn't go as well as the start with injuries, that must give you peace of mind for next year?

AB: Certainly - in an ideal world we would have both had a half decent season and done what we needed to do and should have been capable of anyway for the automatic selection criteria, but thankfully British Triathlon recognised that it is important to select people a year before. It means we can get on and focus on what we need to do now with our eyes only on that one day in August next year.

People are always asking what you might do in the future, will you do Ironman / will you do something else etc. Mentally, with that Olympic selection, do all future thoughts and plans basically stop at August 2016 with no plans beyond that?

JB: Now that we have been selected it is a big advantage, and it means that all roads really do lead to Rio in August. I could choose not to race at all until then - of course that won't be the case, I'll be doing the World Series to lead up to that - but it means that all the races I pick will be focussed on building to Rio so I won't be chasing around to get WTS points or anything, it will only be events that fit to get me in the best shape to perform in August. Since triathlon became a part of the Olympics that is the biggest event you can do, so the aim is to get two medals in Rio next year.

©Delly Carr and Janos M. Schmidt /

You didn't have overall have the seasons that you wanted, but if you look a bit deeper you both had some fantastic performances. For you Jonny, the one that stands out is Gold Coast. How would you rate that in the context of your career, and does it give you confidence that you can be as good as, if not better than you've ever been to date with that sort of fitness and form?

JB: It has been a strange season like you say. There were some real highs and the start of the season went very well - I think Gold Coast was probably the best all round triathlon I've ever done. Maybe the run wasn't the absolute fastest, but for swim-bike-run it was the best performance I've ever done. I changed a few bits of training beforehand and that helped me improve. To be out of the swim in second place with Javier missing that group, to then stay away on the bike and then run really well... it's good knowing that if I do get into similar shape for Rio next year on a course which could see the race go a similar way then I've got a good chance. But then, the rest of the season after that didn't go too well!

Related Article - Watch Jonny dominate Gold Coast

©Delly Carr /

Alistair, you went to race in Rio at the Test Event knowing that you wouldn't be able to do (on the run), what you wanted to and are capable of due to injury, but do you think what you learned about the course and area will prove valuable for your both?

AB: I didn't particularly want to go, but I thought it was important to go... and I'm glad I did. To be able to see the course, the venue and everything around it was very important for me and hopefully I can take that forward into next year. It's very different to say London, where we had raced so many times before and stayed in the same hotel, so for Rio it's a bit of a different experience. That's also quite nice in some ways too in that it is not just a textbook repeat of what we've done before.

What would you regard as success next year - is less than Gold and Silver for example a 'failure'?

AB: I think for me anything less than winning I would think is a failure... that said, if I came second and Jonny won I wouldn't be massively disappointed, but I'd still think I'd failed!

JB: For me a medal again, anything less than that would be a failure - and of course Leeds World Series. If I was to win the Olympic Gold medal and win Leeds World Series then that would be the perfect year for me!

So Leeds, you've had a big input into that event and your involvement there in your home is key - what can athletes taking part in Leeds expect from the course and the overall experience?

AB: The thing that is going to differ with Leeds compared to most World Triathlon Series events is that the race is going to be biggest thing that happens there for most of the year to be honest, and certainly for that week, if not the month. The whole of the city will be closed down for the race on that Sunday. Races claim to have a city Centre course, but this course literally goes through the main shopping street in Leeds, the main business area and the transition area is in he main square - it not just a triathlon in a city, but a weekend where a city becomes triathlon and hopefully thousands of people will turn up to watch and it will be a great day.

Related Article - ITU World Triathlon Leeds confirmed

Where about are you now in terms of fitness versus previous years and, I guess, health given that I know you has surgery a few months ago Alistair? Has winter training kicked off yet?

AB: Well previous years have been so hit and miss that comparisons are not relevant to be honest! I had my surgery nearly three months ago now and I'm told that it has gone as well as it could do, so I'm just slowly building up now.

JB: I'm back training now, not really hard training. Because of the Olympics I'm building up slowly but I'm back swimming, biking and running. I might go to Spain in a week to get the first block of warm weather training in, but I'm just enjoying what is really fun training.

On thing you've both been good at over several years now is producing your big performances on the biggest days, in the Championship events and Major Games. You had injuries leading into 2014 for example but the target was always the Commonwealth Games. Does targeting for and peaking for those individual events inspire you more than being consistent of a series of seven or eight races?

AB: The important thing in triathlon is still absolutely 100% the Olympic Games, so being able to compete and be the best on one day is the important thing, so that's what interests me because of that.

©Delly Carr /

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