“Secretly I want to just be able to train as normal without any attention.”
After winning an Olympic gold and bronze medal in their home country, British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee couldn’t exactly walk around town unnoticed. In the days after the race, they were crazed with interviews, photo shoots and sponsor commitments, and even getting through the Olympic Park was “madness” with their heightened celebrity status. “We ended up walking separately to places so less people worked out who we were,” Jonathan says.
Outside of a parade and a few track and field events—they watched David Rudisha win the 800m final and saw Usain Bolt get the 200m gold—Jonathan tried to stay pretty low-key, knowing that the remaining races in the ITU World Triathlon Series were still on the calendar. “I knew I had a good chance with the World Series so I was keen to get home and try and get back into my training routine,” Jonathan says.
Around Yorkshire, where the Brownlees normally reside and train, Jonathan says they’ve received more and more nods of acknowledgement and fingers pointed at them, partly due to the fact that one of their sponsors, BT, (a TV, internet and phone provider) put their photo on phone books and billboards around town. “Since the Games, everyone wants to stop and say well done which is lovely and really supportive,” Jonathan says. “But secretly I want to just be able to train as normal without any attention.”
Less than a month after the London Games, Jonathan went on to win the ITU World Triathlon Stockholm, beating out 2012 silver medalist Javier Gomez by six seconds in the sprint-distance event.
“I did virtually nothing for the six days after the [Olympics], except for a couple of 1K swims, if you can call them that,” Jonathan says. “And then for the next 10 days I tried to do normal training but I was pretty tired. I felt very sluggish in Stockholm. It felt strange to be back racing again. I felt terrible until the last lap of the run when I started to pick up. I think I was getting more race fit as the race went on!”
Due to an appendix removal in early October, Alistair won’t be defending his title at the ITU Grand Final in Auckland this Sunday, but 22-year-old Jonathan—who leads in points in the series—hopes he can take his place.
“My bronze medal is brilliant, it was won at a one-off, highly pressurized race in my home country and the whole experience will be one that I never forget, as well as being on the podium with my brother,” Jonathan says. “The World Series is a reflection of who has been the best throughout the whole season and is made up of [a series of] races, which all have made their own impression on me and most of which I have raced in without my brother. If I can win it, it’ll also be brilliant!”