OLYMPIC champion Alistair Brownlee says triathlon has grown beyond anything he could have imagined as his home city prepares to welcome the sport’s finest this weekend.
Leeds stages a leg of the World Triathlon Series with a day-and-a half of mass-participation amateur races leading into the elite men’s and women’s events on Sunday afternoon.
Brownlee, who won Olympic gold and completed the set of major honours at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years later, is among the favourites to succeed again this summer in Rio. And a first World Series win of the season in his home city would be the perfect boost.
“There’s a massive change in triathlon both in terms of participation, which has seen massive increases year on year, and interest,” said Brownlee.
“You see people out on the streets training for it all the time, especially around Leeds. This city is a real hub and a hotbed for the sport. But there’s also more people following it now and actively watching it on television, people who wouldn’t have been interested before suddenly are. It’s a different world to what it was.”
Brownlee versus his younger brother Jonny is the headline attraction in the men’s race, particularly given the two haven’t raced against each other competitively in more than two years.
Olympic silver medallist Javier Gomez makes his first appearance of the season.