Alistair Brownlee targeting more world glory ahead of Miami opener

Alistair Brownlee is gearing up for the new T100 Triathlon World Tour season, which kicks off in Miami
Alistair Brownlee is gearing up for the new T100 Triathlon World Tour season, which kicks off in Miami (IMAGO/Ingo Kutsche via Reuters C)

By Paul Eddison

Age comes for us all – even double Olympic gold medal-winning triathletes.

But while Alistair Brownlee admits that the early mornings are a little tougher now that he is 35 years old, the competitive drive burns as strongly as ever.

One of the heroes of London 2012, Brownlee shared the podium with his older brother Jonny 12 years ago, doing so again in Rio – Alistair taking gold on each occasion as Jonny upgraded bronze for silver.

Alistair drew a line under his Olympic ambitions after missing out on Tokyo, instead turning his attention to longer triathlons.

And it is that form of the sport that still drives him forward, with Brownlee set to compete in the first event of the rebranded T100 World Tour in Miami this weekend.

Replacing the PTO Tour, the eight-race schedule is now the official World Championship for long-distance triathlon – and it comprises of a 2km swim, an 80km bike ride and an 18km run.

Brownlee has dealt with his fair share of injuries over the past few seasons – including in the build-up to Tokyo.

But ahead of Miami, he believes that he can manage his body to challenge for a world title once again.

“My body feels a lot older, especially the first half an hour after getting out of bed in the morning,” he said.

“I’ve been a professional athlete for almost half my life so it’s a long time. But it’s not just about getting older. Even as a younger athlete, your body, your mechanical chassis as it were, changes every year.

"I think whereas my physiological engine, if that analogy is right, is in lots of ways as good as ever, the load you can put through the chassis, especially running, definitely changes.

“So, it’s a constant adaptation to try to work out what training you can do to maximise the engine but not put too much injury risk through the body.”

Brownlee has arrived in Miami with his body healthy and fresh from a training camp in Spain as he prepares for the super humid conditions at a venue which is better known for hosting NASCAR racing.

It is fitting in some ways, as the T100 is aiming to become the Formula 1 of endurance sports.

Long-distance triathlon is not exactly a young person’s sport, but the hours of training required take their toll.

So, what is it that keeps Brownlee coming back, even after putting his body and a fair share of doctors through the mill?

“Ultimately, I love it,” he answered.

“I don’t know why I keep doing it apart from when I’m training and I’m three hours into a long ride or in the middle of a hard set, I get a feeling that it’s going well and think this is what I love doing.

“It’s not just about racing well and winning, there’s a much more holistic enjoyment of it, of the process of training and it gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

For the ultra-competitive Brownlee, who famously pounced on a hint of weakness from his brother to race away for gold in Rio, the idea that it is not just about winning might raise an eyebrow.

But it does not mean that he is now just along for the ride. When he is on that start line in Miami and for every other race this season, Brownlee will be there to win.

He concluded: “The T100 is a world title, I want to be competitive in the series and the ultimate aim is to see if I can win that title.”