Two-time Olympic medallist Yee relishing prospect of returning to 'special' Leeds crowd

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Yee, 24, claimed victory at his home World Triathlon Championship Series race last year before going on to claim individual Olympic silver and mixed relay gold in Tokyo
Yee, 24, claimed victory at his home World Triathlon Championship Series race last year before going on to claim individual Olympic silver and mixed relay gold in Tokyo

By James Reid

Triathlon star Alex Yee loves Leeds almost as much as Tokyo - where he won Olympic gold and silver - and returns to Roundhay Park for more this summer.

Yee, 24, claimed victory at his home World Triathlon Championship Series race last year before going on to claim individual Olympic silver and mixed relay gold in Tokyo.

And the Loughborough athlete can’t wait to return to the city ahead of his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham a month later.

"Leeds was probably one of my proudest moments of last year,” said Yee.

“To be able to race in front of crowds again was a big thing. Even though it wasn't at full capacity, it was the first time I'd got to race in front of a home crowd and that was a really special moment.

“To win the race and perform the way I did was an extremely proud moment for me. It set up a great year for me and made me believe in myself a little bit.

“Leeds as a British athlete is a massive race and for us to have a World Series on home soil is always something which every British athlete will want to go and do and race well, and I'm the same.”

Yee claimed two medals in Tokyo behind closed doors due to Covid-19 and is relishing the prospect of racing and winning medals in front of a home crowd.

"I'm super excited to race at the Commonwealth Games,” added Yee.

“Especially almost just an hour away from where I live now, it's almost a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“Not having crowds in Tokyo was a bit of a disappointment, though we were lucky to have the event at all, so to have a major championships in front of a crowd, that'll be really special and even better it's a home crowd.”

Yee’s convincing victory in Leeds was his first on the sport’s top-level circuit and provided a launchpad for his Olympic success.

He said: “I've learned a lot in the short time I've been at the top level of the sport, I'd like to think that I'm in a position now where I can be competing towards the front of a race.

“Everything else this year is based around me performing well at the Commonwealth Games so hopefully I can get the best possible result for myself and hopefully be on that mixed relay team and we can deliver something special in front of a home crowd.

"A lot of people have already committed to coming that maybe wanted to come to Tokyo but couldn't and that's really exciting.

“It maybe adds that extra bit of pressure and anticipation, but I'm really excited for it.”

Yee hopes he can act as an inspiration to the next generation of triathletes with his performances at a home Commonwealth Games after he was inspired by the London 2012 Olympics.

Yee grew up in London, starting his career at Crystal Palace Triathletes, and spoke of the importance of grassroots clubs in providing a platform for the next medal winners.

He said: “To me those guys are where my triathlon journey began and many other of the top-level triathletes are in a similar position to me so I think that's incredibly important that those things live on.

“After the Olympics and post-Covid, so many people are inspired to be active, be outdoors and that's when people look to the grassroots sports clubs for those opportunities and those avenues to start.

“You never know, those people could be the next Mo Farah or the next Adam Peaty - you don't know who is going to walk through the door.

“If they’re there to compete at elite level or just to keep fit they’re just as important as each other.

“Having London 2012 at my doorstep and being able to watch that, just get on the tube and watch that level of competition really inspired me so I hope myself and the other triathletes can do a similar thing for a young boy, young girl in the crowds.”

Swim, bike, run in Britain will have a 2022 to remember with AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds on 11-12 June, triathlon and paratriathlon at Birmingham Commonwealth Games on 29 and 31 July, and World Triathlon Para Series Swansea on 6 August. https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/major-events

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