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Jonny Brownlee hoping to cap brilliant season
Jonny Brownlee will hope to cap a brilliant year for his family by following in the footsteps of brother Alistair and fellow Bingley Harrier and being crowned world champion in New Zealand this weekend.
The Bramhope pair became the first British athletes to win Olympic medals in the sport in Hyde Park this summer when Alistair took gold and his brother bronze.
Alistair has dominated the sport over the past three years, including holding off the challenge of Jonny to win his second world title 12 months ago.
But his hopes of defending his title were ended by an Achilles injury suffered earlier this year and instead it is Jonny who has taken over the mantle.
The 22-year-old from Leeds heads into the World Triathlon Series Grand Final in Auckland with a 180-point lead over Spain’s Javier Gomez, the Olympic silver medallist, and knowing a podium finish will be enough to secure the title.
The hilly bike course should suit Jonny, who has won races in San Diego, Madrid and Stockholm this season, but he knows he will have to be on top of his game.
The former Bradford Grammar School pupil said said: “It’s an honour to be thought of as the favourite for the title but there is a job to be done this weekend and I am not underestimating the competition or the conditions.
“This is going to be a tough race on a challenging course against athletes who all want to end their seasons on a high.
“Whatever happens on Sunday, I have had a fantastic year. To finish it off with the world title would really be something special but I know I have to stay focused in the lead-up and get everything right if that is going to happen.”
Jonny’s trio of victories has given him the confidence to race without Alistair, and he hopes that will stand him in good stead this weekend.
He said: “To win the world title would be incredible, especially to follow Alistair as the champion. It’s been a long season, and the Olympics was my major focus this year, but I now have a big opportunity this weekend and I hope to make the most of it.
“Alistair wanted to be here but we’ve both been so busy since the Olympics, it’s been crazy and he needed a break. The World Series races in San Diego and Madrid were two of my best ever, so I’ve shown I can race without him, but it does change things.”
Alistair had hoped to race in Auckland to support Jonny but instead has been forced to rest after having his appendix removed last month, and has headed off to Brazil on holiday instead.
The 24-year-old will be backing his brother from afar, though, and said: “I knew early in the year that I wouldn’t have enough points to defend the world title.
“I wanted to be there to help Jonny at the Grand Final but it didn’t work out. He’s had a fantastic year and I hope he can win this one.”
Adam Bowden, David McNamee, Aaron Harris and Mark Buckingham will also contest the men’s senior race, while Jodie Stimpson is Britain’s sole representative in the women’s race on Saturday.
Last year’s champion, Wales’ Helen Jenkins, has not competed since finishing fifth at the Olympics, where she was hampered by a knee injury, while fellow Olympian Vicky Holland also ended her season early.
The third member of the team, 20-year-old Lucy Hall, will compete in the under-23 race along with Non Stanford and Lois Rosindale. Last year’s champion Matt Sharp and bronze medallist Tom Bishop contest the men’s under-23 race.