Jonny Brownlee has admitted it will feel strange to line up on the Tokyo 2020 startline without older brother Alistair next to him but says “I just hope it is my time now”.
The Brownlee siblings starred at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, as Alistair won back-to-back gold medals ahead of Jonny, who followed up bronze nine years ago with silver in Brazil.
He will now hope to complete his Olympic journey from the third step of the podium to the top when he starts his bid for glory at Tokyo’s Odaiba Marine Park on 26 July.
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Double Olympic champion Alistair missed out on a place at this summer’s Games following a disappointing home World Triathlon Championship Series race in Leeds, in which he was disqualified.
Following the race, the elder Brownlee brother admitted he had gambled on his fitness in a bid to win a third successive Olympic title, and he will now undergo surgery on his troublesome ankle.
Jonny, whose place at the Games was confirmed back in 2019, was aware of the strain his brother’s body had been under and praised his courage for even attempting to complete the course.
“I’m training so hard right now I feel a little bit of a vacant person. I also feel like I’ve been on pause a little bit, having been selected for the team the best part of two years ago,” Jonny wrote on Metro.co.uk.
“Having seen my brother Alistair’s struggles to make the squad, right up against it until the last chance in Leeds sadly came and went recently, I am so glad I was picked when I was and that I didn’t have that pressure.
“Al had not run at all for the couple of weeks leading into Leeds — 90 per cent of athletes would not have started that race last month. I knew he would struggle to get round despite people talking about him qualifying for Tokyo that day.
“I really felt for him and in the end, it was out of his control — a fact I know he will have hated. It was very hard to see him struggle. But once he knew he wasn’t going, it made it a lot easier for him to decide to have ankle surgery.
“He has been coming out with my training group on his e-mountain bike. He also sent me a message about Tokyo, backing me to do well.
“It will definitely be strange and different without him there on the startline. I’m used to going through the whole process with him.
“I’m so proud to be competing at my third Olympics and I decided some time ago I want to enjoy this one more, take it in and appreciate it all — even though it is going to be a very unique Games due to Covid.”
The men’s triathlon is scheduled to start at 6.30am local time on 26 July in a bid to beat the heat in Tokyo.
Jonny Brownlee got a taster of the conditions that await at Odaiba Marine Park when he finished 23rd in the World Triathlon Championship Series event in Yokohama in May.
“I’ve been training in a heat chamber at home to prepare for conditions in Japan which I’m expecting won’t be pleasant,” he added.
“I competed in Yokohama earlier this year and also the test event in 2019. What brought home to me how hot it is there was when I got off the subway with my training partner because it was simply too hot for us. Our T-shirts were soaked and it was just too hot to do anything outside.
“We will race at 6.30am because of the heat and it will be a case of the athlete who is best prepared winning, unlike in Rio for instance where Al and I won gold and silver respectively as the best two athletes in the race. The heat will play such a huge part in Tokyo and you cannot overestimate that.
But, despite everything, it is an Olympic Games and I am delighted to have the chance to compete there. I just hope it is my time now.”
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