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Thu 23rd May 2019
© | Delly Carr / ITU
Javier Gomez: a true champion
Posted by: John Levison
Posted on: Thursday 14th July 2016

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This article was first published on Friday 10th August 2012, three days after the Men's Triathlon at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Given today's news that Javier Gomez has been forced to miss the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after breaking his arm, it feels appropriate to dig this one out from the archives and re-publish - without edit or amendment - as I feel that every word I wrote then is just as applicable now.

"What you saw was a very fair triathlon - you can get funny results in races sometimes, the strongest athlete not winning - but I think the Olympic Games was a true, honest reflection of the best athletes being at the front of the race and winning the medals."

They were the words to me and an assembled audience on Wednesday night in central London, from Olympic Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee. So true, and the reason - in my opinion - that if you follow this sport, the medal podium from Tuesday's Men's Olympic Games Triathlon should provide a feeling of contentment - and not just because 'we' had two Brownlee brothers in the medals. My happiness at the finishing positions extends to the 'third man' too, Javier Gomez. We called them the 'Big Three' for a reason! / Delly Carr / ITU

The context? Just over 24 hours after the finish of the Olympic Games and that gold medal win, I wanted to ask Alistair about Javier, the Spanish athlete and London 2012 Silver medal winner. Not surprisingly, in this glorious festival of sporting excellence, combined with unprecedented British success - putting the 'Great' back into Britain as it's been described - the triathlon focus has been squarely on the narrow shoulders of the Team GB Bramhope residents. I want to recognise the brilliance of Javier Gomez too.

What impact has Javier had on the sport? Well, four-time Olympian, Gold and Silver medal winner Simon Whitfield - and man with his finger on the triathlon pulse - summed it up, as is the modern way, within the 140 character limits of Twitter:

"@jonny_brownlee @jgomeznoya @alibrownleetri Hats off to you, you have taken our sport to a new level. #Champions"

Rewind three years. 2009 and, after his brave efforts (12th) in Beijing, a 21 year old Alistair Brownlee starts the newly formed ITU World Championship Series with an 'unprecedented' five consecutive wins, dominating the world in Madrid, Washington, London, Kitzbühel and The Gold Coast. wasn't unprecedented. Just one year previously, 2008, and Javier Gomez won five consecutive ITU World Cup races prior to the Beijing Olympic Games (including the Vancouver World Championships), before an injury impacted and heartbreaking fourth place finish at Ming Toms Reservoir, for an athlete who was as big a favourite for Beijing as Alistair was for London.

Two years ago in London, Gomez was able to push the 2012 Olympic Champion to the point that he collapsed across the line in tenth, as captured by these brilliant images, while at the ITU World Sprint Triathlon Champs (Lausanne) last year, once again Gomez was able to split the Brownlees, finishing second to Jonathan.

How good is Gomez? Very. Alistair explained: "I don't think people realise just how good he is. For across-the-board swim / bike / run ability he is amazing, probably the best there is... I ran the first lap of the run (2.5km) of the Olympic Games hard, harder than I've ever done - probably faster than anyone has ever done - and he was still there. I was thinking 'how has he done this?!' I don't know why, I've raced him enough to know how good he is. I think he had his best race ever, certainly his best run ever, and he made it extremely hard for me. I've got a huge amount of respect for him."

Producing perhaps your best race ever, on the biggest stage ever, against arguably the greatest - certainly the fastest - triathlete ever. That is a measure of the brilliance of Javier Gomez. You may not have won the race Javier, but as Simon Whitfield so appropriately put it, you are a Champion.

And that is why this may be my favourite image of this Olympic Games. Thank you to Delly Carr/ for capturing it. / Delly Carr / ITU

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