Home > Personalities

Alistair Brownlee disqualified at WTCS Leeds – could be his last short-course event

Two-time Olympic gold medalist struggles with injury heading into Olympic qualifying race

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Alistair Brownlee’s run at a third straight Olympic gold medal appears to be over after a tough day at the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) Leeds. The three-time Olympian and two-time defending gold medalist had hoped for” a miracle” as he tried to overcome an injury with a final run at being selected to the British team, but that opportunity appears to be over after his tough day in Leeds.

After coming out of the water in second place and being very much in the mix throughout the bike, Brownlee was obviously not himself on the run, quickly losing time on the rest of the field as the 10 km run started. During the run we learned on the TriathlonLive.tv coverage that Brownlee had been disqualified for “unsportsmanlike behaviour during the swim segment.” Video of the event appeared to show Brownlee pushing American Chase McQueen under the water.

“That was a really tough day,” he told BBC Sport. “I only knew I was disqualified on the last lap so it was a bitter end to it. In the middle of the swim, anything can happen. I’m in the middle of a stroke and I can guarantee that as bad was done to me 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after. It is a subjective field of play decision, but it is what it is.

“I was pretty sure that would be my last World Series race,” he continued. “I have struggled in the last three or four months with injury, I needed a miracle today, I have done everything I can and I needed some luck but I didn’t get it.”

Jonathan Brownlee, the bronze medalist from the 2012 Games in London and silver-medalist from Rio, has been selected for the British team in Tokyo. Great Britain has two spots available for the team and going into today’s race it appeared that the second spot would go to either the older Brownlee or 23-year-old Alex Yee, an up-and-coming star in the British program. Yee ended up winning today’s race in Leeds.

It’s not a foregone conclusion that Alistair Brownlee won’t be in Tokyo.

“We meet on Tuesday, and again a couple of weeks later,” Mike Cavendish, the performance director of British Triathlon told the BBC, talking about the selection committee that will decide who will represent the country in Tokyo. “There are no guarantees but he (Yee) is in a good spot. We would have loved to see Alistair closer to the front but he has been carrying an injury. We will talk to Alistair, see where his head is at, talk to Alex as well and put all that into the mix.”

Alistair Brownlee has been juggling a budding long-distance career that includes two silver medals at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship and a couple of Ironman titles – a win at his debut over the distance in Ireland and a record-setting performance in winning the 2019 Ironman Western Australia race. Last December he appeared to be on track to contend for the win at the PTO 2020 Championship before having to pull up with a calf injury that appears to have sidelined his run at a fourth Olympic Games this summer.

Brownlee has already qualified for this year’s Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and will likely be a favourite at the Ironman 70.3 worlds in St. George, Utah in September, assuming he is able to recover from the injury.