Exclusive: Brownlee brothers turn to Top Gun in quest for Rio Olympic triathlon gold

Jonny and Alistair Brownlee pictured with their Olympic medals in Millennium Square, Leeds, in 2012. Picture by Simon Hulme.
Jonny and Alistair Brownlee pictured with their Olympic medals in Millennium Square, Leeds, in 2012. Picture by Simon Hulme.
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More than 300 miles from the Olympic party in Rio, Yorkshire’s finest are preparing to take on the world with military precision.

Jonny and Alistair Brownlee, who are normally based in Bramhope, are steering clear of the fanfare by stationing themselves in a Brazilian air force base near Sao Paulo.

The pre-Games stop off forms the final part of a six-week training camp organised by British Triathlon that saw Team GB’s triathletes spend five weeks at altitude in St Moritz, Switzerland.

With less than a week to go until they line up on Copacabana Beach for the start of the men’s triathlon next Thursday, Jonny Brownlee has spoken exclusively to Yorkshire Post Newspapers.

The 26-year-old, who won bronze behind Olympic champion Alistair four years ago in London, claims the camp is helping to keep the team focused on training.

“We are blessed coming from Yorkshire where there’s lots of cycling roads and places to run but Rio is very difficult to train in,” he said. “The roads are busy for cycling and we decided to go somewhere further afield.

“It’s very, very separated here, but we’ve tried to give it a bit of an Olympic feeling, putting posters and flags up, and we watch it at night on TV.”

The air base boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool, two running tracks, trails and quiet roads for cycling.

As the countdown continues, Team GB’s triathletes, including the likes of Non Stanford and Vicky Holland, will fly from the base to Rio on Monday and stay in a hotel near the start of the triathlon events.

Aiming to win another medal and keen to do Yorkshire proud, Jonny is hoping the Olympic triathlon will again take on a White Rose tinge next week.

Jonny Brownlee greets the crowd at the end of the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Jonny Brownlee greets the crowd at the end of the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds. Picture by Tony Johnson.

He added: “We’ve been quite isolated, we haven’t been around the British fans, but I want to see lots of Yorkshire flags on race day. Every race I do now, whether it’s in Australia or Stockholm, you always see one.”

Leeds-based Gordon Benson, 22, the third member of the men’s team, also hopes for more of the same after Leeds made an unforgettable World Triathlon Series debut in June.

“I don’t think the crowd will be anywhere near as good at the Olympics as it was in Leeds and this is the biggest race in the world,” he said.

“You’ve got to respect that we are part of Team GB but the three of us are very proud Yorkshiremen. There’s no place like home.”

We’ve tried to give it a bit of an Olympic feeling, putting posters and flags up.

Jonny Brownlee, who won triathlon bronze in the 2012 Olympic Games.