Jonny Brownlee: 'Olympics will be weird without Alistair'

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Jonny Brownlee in action at the AJ Bell 2021 Triathlon World Series Leeds
Jonny Brownlee in action at the AJ Bell 2021 Triathlon World Series Leeds

JONNY Brownlee admitted it will be ‘weird’ without his brother Alistair at the Olympics after the reigning champion’s slim hopes of completing a hat-trick of golds were all but ended on home soil in Leeds, writes Josh Graham.

Officials at the AJ Bell 2021 Triathlon World Series Leeds dumped him out of the Roundhay Park race for unsportsmanlike conduct as TV footage appeared to show him ‘ducking’ American Chase McQueen during the swim.

Jonny, 31, has already booked his place in Japan but finished ninth on the day behind Alex Yee, Alistair’s main rival for the second spot in the team, who romped to a convincing victory which is likely to deny the Brownlee brothers a fairytale Olympic finish before both switch focus to the longer Ironman distance.

“It will be really weird there without Alistair but fair play to Alex,” Jonny said.

“It will be the first of many wins on the World Series. He’s an incredible athlete and he works hard, so he deserves it.

“Alex has shown himself to be one of, if not the fastest runner. And hopefully if it’s a breakaway, I’ve got that covered as well so we should be in with a good shout [of medalling].”

Jonny, who won bronze at London 2012 and silver in Rio four years later, bemoaned the messy scenes in the water which ended his elder brother’s hopes of a third Leeds triumph.

“People were dunking each other here, there and everywhere,” he said.

“It’s what gets caught on camera. It’s nothing to do with anyone being nasty or anything - it’s just the way the swim happens.

“The swim was just not fast enough - we didn’t do any swimming. I knew it was always going to be one big group, it was just a fight the whole way around."

Despite selectors still having to make the final call in the coming weeks, Alistair - who has struggled with injury - appeared to accept defeat in his quest to compete at a fourth consecutive Games.

The 33-year-old tweeted: “I’m very embarrassed about being Dq’d. The swim action was completely unintentional and I’ve had worse done to me in every World Series race I’ve ever done. However it is a field of play decision and I chose not to protest it.

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“I’ve known my ankle needs surgery for a little while. My focus will be on getting healthy again and then long distance triathlon in the future.

“I think GB have a great team going to the Olympics and I wish them all the best. [Alex’s] performance today was outstanding and a breakthrough.”

The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Leeds makes its return to the city for the fifth time and represents the pinnacle of triathlon competition in the UK