TW Interviews: Alistair Brownlee

Alistair Brownlee reveals why he's enjoying his Olympic favourite status - but still suffers pre-race nerves



alistair brownlee gatorade

"What sets Alistair apart is that he's an athlete who only needs to be told something once," confided the Brownlees' coach Jack Maitland last week, as he put several journalists through swim, cycle and run sessions alongside triathlon's most famous brothers, at the launch of the Gatorade G Series Pro range.

This season has showcased Alistair's remarkable ability - and revealed how he can make a comeback from seemingly any setback. After finishing 29th in the first ITU World Series race in Sydney following a heavy fall, Alistair pulled off a string of confident victories in Madrid, Kitzbühel, London and Beijing to become World Champion for the second time.

With Olympic qualification firmly under his belt, we spoke to the gold-medal favourite about the pressures ahead of a home Olympics, what he really thinks about the Hyde Park course, his Ironman ambitions and the impact 2012 will have on triathlon.

Congratulations on qualifying for the Olympics! Does it feel like the pressure is on or off now that you know you're competing in London 2012?

A bit of both. The aim for this year was to qualify for the Olympics, so it's nice sitting here knowing I don't have to focus on securing my spot early next year. I always said this season that the pressure wasn't there for the Olympics, as it was one step at a time and I had to qualify first - and now I've qualified. So now it's a bit of both, but I am looking forward to the actual Olympic race now.

After taking the ITU World Championships this year, you're hotly tipped to take gold in London 2012. Are you starting to feel the pressure and how are you coping with it?

I'm aware of it but I wouldn't say that I feel the pressure. I'm quite enjoying it; what a great experience it is to go into a home Olympics as the favourite. It's pretty special and any pressure is kind of deserved, that's how I choose to look at it.

Well done on an amazing season. You always make winning look incredibly easy, do you still get pre-race nerves?

Sometimes. It's always worse at the first few races of the season. By the time I'm on race four, five or six, I'm not really nervous at all. I think the Olympics will be a bit different. It's not so much nerves, it's more like nagging worries about what could go wrong. Once I've got a few good races under my belt, the nerves tend to disappear.

Do you think the profile of triathlon is going to change after London 2012?

There has been a lot of talk about how triathlon in Britain needs an Olympic medal and whether it does or not, who knows, we'll see what happens next year. I think whatever the results, the Games will be fantastic for triathlon. Having a home Olympics, with the event in Hyde Park and the chance for millions of people to turn up and watch for free is incredible. More importantly, triathlon across all different points of the sport from Olympic distance to Ironman is successful for Britain at the moment, and that's the main thing that drives sport.

There has been some criticism of the London 2012 triathlon venue. What do you think of the Hyde Park course?

I think Hyde Park is a fantastic Olympic venue; it showcases the sport and the city and it's fantastic for spectators. For the athletes it's very featureless, it's not technical or hilly or varied. At the end of the day though, it's a course and a good athlete should be able to race well on any course.

How will you and Jonny work together in London 2012?

We'll work as a team until the run, then it'll be every man for himself and we can really race.

Long-term do you think you'll move up to middle-distance or Ironman events?

I'd like to think so, but who knows. It depends on what happens next year - it can feel like a conveyor belt with sport sometimes. It's the Olympics next year, then the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow two years later, then the Olympics again two years after that. I definitely want to have a go at Ironman at some point, but I'm not entirely sure when I'll do it.

London 2012 will be your second time competing at an Olympics. You wrote in your blog at the Beijing Olympics that you were gutted about finishing 12th [Alistair was in the lead pack for most of the race]. Looking back at that experience now, what do you make of it?

Initially I was quite gutted, I wondered how it all went wrong, as I was winning the race with 3K to go and I ended up finishing twelfth; what the hell happened? Then, with a little more reflection, I realised what I'd achieved - I'd come from nowhere to finish effectively twelfth in the world. I'd started the year as seventh or eighth Brit, so to finish with that world ranking was a massive step. The whole Olympic experience was good for me, as it showed me that I wasn't a million miles from holding my own with the best guys in the world, I was only a small step away.

What was the most memorable moment from the Beijing Olympics?

The build up to the Olympics was massive. There was so much pressure, everyone was talking about it and I was asked about it 35 times a day; it was quite amazing. But the thing I remember most was just standing on the start line and thinking, "This is just like a normal race. I'm stood on a pontoon, I'm about to dive in and I race these guys every other week. What's the difference?" I think what stood out most was the realisation that it was just another triathlon.

When will you race next?

I probably won't race until the ITU World Series in San Diego in May. I've been injured the last few years, but hopefully this winter I'll also be able to slot in some cross-country races.

What are you most looking forward to about 2012?

Racing the Olympics and just racing in general. I really do love racing and improving as an athlete, so the most important thing for me is to have an injury-free winter and just to enjoy the experience, rather than rushing to get fit as I've done in the past.

Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee were speaking at the launch of the Gatorade G Series Pro range, a new series of sports performance products that fuel athletes before, during and after workout, practice or competition. Available to buy in stores from November 20th, follow @GatoradeUK for more information.


Previous article
TW Interviews: Chrissie Wellington
Next article
TW Interviews: Jonny Brownlee

Olympics
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this article

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.