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Brownlee sets his sights on Tokyo Olympics

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee has confirmed he'll be gunning after a fourth Olympic appearance this year.

After shattering the course record at Ironman Western Australia last month, Alistair Brownlee hinted that he’d be gunning after a third gold medal in Tokyo. Today he confirmed that in a BBC story.

Alistair Brownlee at the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

After a disappointing day at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, Brownlee bounced back with an incredible performance in Western Australia, going 7:45 and running a 2:43 marathon to boot. After the race he hinted that Tokyo might be in the cards:

“I have a few days before I go home so I will be exploring the area and I am going to Margaret River and drink red wine and eat some steak,” he said. “I go to Bahrain next weekend, but I won’t be racing, and then it is home for Christmas. When the new year rolls around I will focus on trying to race the World Series as well as I can, with an eye on Tokyo.”

“A year ago I wouldn’t be doing this, because I knew I couldn’t cope with another bad injury,” Brownlee told the BBC’s Tom Fordyce. “I just wanted to be able to run and compete and enjoy it. But in the past year I haven’t been injured. I’ve really enjoyed training and I’ve really enjoyed competing, and preparing to compete. And so the decision crept up on me a bit: I want to go to another Olympics, and I want to see what I might be able to do. The people around me – I think most of them expected it, even though I didn’t expect it myself. But I do feel quite good about it.”

Alistair Brownlee was in third-place during the marathon, but struggled to maintain his position running down the Queen K. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon
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Brownlee’s go-for-broke style is certainly more suited to short course racing. During his WTS career he started 70 events, won 37 of those and ended up on the podium another 12 times. This year he won the Cagliari World Cup and the European Championships, but then struggled to 44th at the WTS event in Leeds. Mixed into all of that was a win at Ironman Ireland (which ended up being a duathlon), took second at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice, struggled to 21st in Kona before blasting in Busselton at Ironman Western Australia.

Related: Alistair Brownlee prepares for Kona

Brownlee says he’ll be training with his brother, Jonny, who took the bronze medal at the London games and silver in Rio in 2016.

A third gold would be an impressive achievement for Brownlee – he is already the only two-time gold medalist – especially because of his focus on long-distance racing over the last couple of years. The Brit isn’t the only potential Olympic medalist who has been dabbling in the half- and full-distance race scene over the last few years, either – Spain’s Javier Gomez also raced in Kona in 2017 and has a 70.3 world title on his incredible resume, too.

According to his athlete profile on www.triathlon.org, Brownlee is currently 89th in the Olympic ranking.

It will be interesting to see how Brownlee will fare against his old WTS rivals. His aggressive race style will likely be matched by athletes like Gomez, 2019 world champion Vincent Luis (FRA) or Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the winner of the Grand Final in Lausanne. Then there are running speedsters like Mario Mola who will hope that the chase group can join any breakaways on the bike to set up a 10 km dash for gold in Tokyo. (We’ll add our very own Tokyo Test Event winner, Tyler Mislawchuk, to that list, too.)

One thing is for sure, though – you’d be crazy to bet against Brownlee in Tokyo if he can get to the line healthy. He’s been plagued by injuries throughout his career, but said in today’s interview that he’s been healthy for a year. Could the added strength from his long-distance foray help him arrive in Tokyo stronger and injury free?

But here’s what is even more enticing: Brownlee’s win in Busselton qualified him for Kona next year. Could he become the first person to win Olympic gold and Kona in the same year?