One-half of Yorkshire’s all-conquering triathlon duo is the only man qualified to represent Great Britain at this summer’s rearranged Games, with double defending Olympic champion Alistair still to confirm his spot.
Both men have said this will be their final Olympics over the traditional triathlon distance, an event they have dominated for nearly a decade.
Alistair is more certain that his future lies in the longer distances, with Jonny – bronze medallist in 2012 and silver medallist four years later – set to follow his brother into half-ironman and then possibly the full-ironman.
But even then, Jonny tells The Yorkshire Post: “I’ll never say never,” about whether Tokyo will be his last.
“Alistair told me 2016 would be his last one and look where we are now,” he said with a laugh. “But I think I’ll be ready for a new challenge.”
Which means the next 100 days – it is actually 103 days to the men’s triathlon in Odaiba Marine Park – will be all about that one last final shot at the only title to elude him.
“Absolutely this will be the hardest,” says the younger Brownlee, who turns 31 at the end of this month. “In 2012 we were first and second in the world, it was our home Olympics and we were obviously the favourites.
“By 2016, both of us had had a dodgy year beforehand; I had a stress fracture, Alistair had hurt his ankle, but we showed that when we were in shape we were the best in the world. So again we were favourites and the course suited us.
“This time around I’ve not had the best couple of years, so I’m not going in as a favourite. But after a couple of good years of training I genuinely believe I am a medal contender. I wouldn’t be going if I didn’t believe I was. In some ways it will be actually quite nice to go to the Olympics and not have that favourite’s tag. I’ve carried that for the last two, so it will be nice going in knowing that my preparation has gone as well as it possibly can, and that I’m on that startline knowing that I can win an Olympic medal.”
Brownlee has kept motivated despite the lack of races due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While Alistair had a small pool built in his garage, Jonny put radiators in his conservatory to create a ‘heat chamber’ for his cycling training to prepare for the oppressive heat of Japan.
The brothers have also decamped to Santa Fe, New Mexico, for altitude training. “I’m excited, I really want to see what I can do one last time,” says Jonny. “It’s the main reason I’m going to altitude again, because if I want to win an Olympic medal I have to prepare really well.”
If he is to finally take that top step, or indeed just win another medal in the men’s race or the newly-added team triathlon, past experience will play a part.
“Our experience should help massively,” says Brownlee. “This year has been such an unpredictable year, people are wondering is it on or is it off? What’s preparation going to be like? How many races will there be beforehand? Some people are coming to the end of their careers and this might be the last shot at an Olympic medal.
“To be able to prepare the best I can, but have two Olympic medals in the my pocket already, will be a big advantage.”
Team GB Chef de Mission, Mark England said: “With just 100 days until the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games our preparations are progressing really well. Understandably, we have had to adapt to the changing climate and make some changes to our plans and we are fortunate that facilities such as our Preparation Camp and Performance Lodge will be safe, secure and fully functional thanks to all of our stakeholders in Japan.
“Team GB will be around 370 athletes strong, and we are still on course to qualify more women than men which is a brilliant opportunity for us to make history in Tokyo and will hopefully be a source of great inspiration for women and girls back at home.
“We have every confidence that we are going to take a very strong team to the Games, which I believe will be a unique and special chance to celebrate sport and humanity globally.”
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