Brownlee rivalry switches to relay

The Brownlee brothers

The Brownlee brothers

First published in Sport
Last updated

ALISTAIR and Jonny Brownlee will join forces for today's team relay after landing gold and silver in the individual triathlon – but they will still be competing against each other.

The Bramhope-based brothers dominated the men's race on Thursday, with Olympic champion Alistair again getting the better of his younger brother over the hilly course at Strathclyde Country Park.

The relay, which comprises two women and two men each completing a mini-triathlon in turn, is in the programme at a major Games for the first time.

England will go in as hot favourites to complete a clean sweep of triathlon golds, with the Brownlees expected to be joined by women's champion Jodie Stimpson and bronze medallist Vicky Holland.

The brothers and Holland were part of the Great Britain team that won the world championships in Hamburg two weeks ago for the third time in four years.

They compete against each other in everything they do, from board games to domestic chores, and the relay is no different.

Former Bradford Grammar School pupil Alistair said: "I still want to beat him. We still get competitive about who gets the fastest relay time.

"Jonny got me in Hamburg but it was the situation in the race. He was just doing a time trial as fast as he could whereas I was racing. And my bit was a bit longer."

Jonny gave short shrift to his brother's complaint, saying: "He crossed the line and looked at the time and my time was faster than his.

"Then he was like, 'I had to run five metres further, and do this and that'. Well I don't care.

"But first and foremost is the race itself. If the race goes a certain way I'm not going to be pushing it on just to try to beat Alistair's time. I'm going to be thinking about the race.

"Relays are great to race. I love racing them – it's fast and furious, it changes so quickly and it's exciting to be part of. We don't get to race as a team that much so I enjoy that."

Each competitor in the relay completes a 250-metre swim, 6km bike and 1.6km run, with the first three tagging their team-mate before the final athlete races to the finish.

The International Triathlon Union was unsuccessful in its attempts to secure an Olympic place for the format in Rio in 2016 but is hopeful that will change in 2020.

An exciting race in Glasgow would certainly help the cause, and Holland said: "It's a fantastic format. A lot of people won't have seen it yet but it is brilliant to watch.

"There are very few sports where you have the boys and girls competing at the same time. We're hoping to bring home the gold and it would be incredible to have another medal."

Australia, New Zealand and Canada are likely to provide England with their main competition but the other home nations are also hoping to figure prominently.

Wales have put all their eggs in one basket with none of their quartet competing in the individual races while Scotland saved their women, Natalie Milne and Seonaid Thompson, for the relay.

Scotland's trio of men performed admirably on Thursday, with David McNamee finishing seventh and 20-year-old Grant Sheldon 14th.

Marc Austin, who is also 20, was in the leading trio along with the Brownlees for four of the five bike laps but paid for his sterling efforts on the run and faded to 22nd.

McNamee hopes Scotland's relay team can be roared on to a place in the top three.

"I think we'll have an outside shot at the medals," said the 26-year-old, who feared he might not get back to the top level after seriously injuring his wrist in a bike crash in February.

"It's great that we've got two girls coming in who didn't race. If the crowd get behind us in the same way, I don't see why we can't get on the podium.

"We've got a great team spirit. Both Marc and Grant are going to be superstars of the future. They were the youngest in the field and the world better watch out for them."

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