Alistair Brownlee on Olympic Athletes Commission, UK Corporate Games and Jonny Brownlee's Paris 2024 chances
One of the greatest Olympians Yorkshire has ever produced was elected chair of the European Olympic Committee’s Athlete Commission earlier this month.
A little closer to home he was on Tuesday named as an official sport ambassador for the 2024 UK Corporate Games which come to his home city of Leeds next July.
All this while the 2012 and 2016 Olympic triathlon champion juggles an extension of his competitive career over ironman distances.
But it is outside the triathlon landscape which he dominated for a decade that Brownlee is starting to make his mark.
Already a member of Team GB’s athletes’ commission, and having been appointed to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission in 2022, he was elected chair of the European arm of that in Rome just two weeks ago.
“My mandate really is to increase the power of the voice of the athletes within the movement,” Brownlee told The Yorkshire Post.
“That’s not by shouting louder, but a big part of that job is engagement: how can we engage athletes more effectively to hear what they have to say and understand what’s going on, to increase the validity of their opinions? Being more informed for everyone is important.
“That’s the main over-arching thing and then within that it’s listening, taking on board opinions and acting on that. The world of international sport moves quickly so there’s always some new issue to come to terms with.”
As an Olympian inspired by the deeds he saw on his television set, Brownlee has felt compelled to play a role in helping shape the future of a sport that gave him so much, and he gave so much to when he was at the peak of his competitive years.
“I really believe in the importance of the Olympic movement for putting on sporting events that encourage the wider values of sport; friendship, excellence, people being active,” he said.
“Being part of it is a great honour for me as a young kid who was inspired by the Games.
“It’s a very privileged job but one that carries a lot of responsibility too. The Olympic movement is incredibly progressive to allow someone like me to have a seat at the table.
“I genuinely think there is an incredible democratic pathway for athletes to have their voices heard within the Olympic movement.”
On an albeit smaller scale, the 2024 UK Corporate Games – which have been running since 1993 – embody similar values for Brownlee.
Following a joint bid from Leeds City Council and the University of Leeds, the games will utilise some of the best sport venues across the city for a fun-packed programme.
The UK Corporate Games follow a long line of successful large-scale events that have been hosted in recent years including the Rugby League World Cup, World Triathlon Championship Series which Brownlee won in 2016 and 2017, and the Ashes. Next summer’s Games are expected to generate more than £2m for the local economy.
“Any of these multi-sport Games are really important,” said Brownlee, 35.
“I have great belief in the inspirational and motivational effects of sport, whether that’s on a six-year-old like I was watching the Olympic Games, or someone at the workplace with their mate being inspired and motivated to enter something to be competitive, or to get into a more active and healthy lifestyle.
“It’s a fantastic cause, this one especially because it’s in Leeds in July.
“We’ve got some great facilities in Leeds, it is a welcoming city, so I think it will be a great experience for everyone who competes.
“It’s also a platform to talk about the Brownlee Foundation and raise money for that. We’re very proud of the foundation, it is going from strength to strength. Hopefully we’ve had an impact on lots of young people around the country.”
While the elder Brownlee still competes over the longer distances - “I still love competing, still love training, it’s just now I’m older I’m more tired and more likely to be injured,” - younger brother Jonny is trying to prolong his Olympic career.
A difficult 2023 has seen the 33-year-old drop to No 71 in the world, meaning he needs a strong 2024 including a good showing at the World Championship Series event in Cagliari next May to earn a spot on the Great Britain team for Paris.
“He’s had a bit of a tough year, I’m sure he’d say himself with illness and injury,” said elder brother Alistair. “But I see it every day in training, he’s still an athlete who can perform at the highest level.
“If he really focuses and really throws everything he’s got at training for that one day next year he can be as good as he has ever been.”
How to get involved in the 2024 Corporate Games
There is an extensive list of over 20 sports to choose from at the Corporate Games, ranging from golf, to cycling, to table tennis. Whether its dragon boat racing, basketball, softball or padel, there is something for everyone.
Any colleagues, friends and family not taking part, can come along to spectate and support as well as join in at the Games welcome festival, free of charge. The entry fee is £89+VAT per person. This includes entry into one sport, a digital games programme, medals in each event and entry to the Games Welcome Festival.
For further details about the event and its entry process, e-mail [email protected], call 01733 838444 or visit www.corporategamesuk.com.