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Olympics

Alistair Brownlee wins triathalon gold, brother third

  • First placed Britain's Alistair Brownlee, left, embraces Jonathan Brownlee who placed third after the men's triathlon final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Hyde Park August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

  • Britain's Alistair Brownlee competes with France's Vincent Luis in the men's triathlon final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Hyde Park August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

LONDON: Alistair Brownlee became the first Briton to win a medal in an Olympic triathlon when he took gold with an emphatic front-running display around Hyde Park in central London Tuesday.

Brownlee, 24, became the 19th British gold medalist of the London Olympics, matching the gold tally won by the team at the Beijing Games four years ago.

His younger brother Jonathan completed another piece of Olympic history when he finished third, making the Yorkshiremen the first siblings to feature on the Olympic medal podium together in an individual event in more than 50 years.

The Brownlees were split at the finish by former world champion Javier Gomez, of Spain.

Jonathan was hampered by a 15-second penalty for getting on to his bike too early in the transition zone between the 1,500m swim and the 43km cycle section.

Alistair had built up a comfortable lead in the second half of the run course around the Serpentine, and was able to walk across the finishing line with a Union Flag draped over his shoulders, looking fraternally over his shoulder for his brother, in one hour 46 minutes and 25 seconds.

Gomez, who had finished one place outside the medals in Beijing four years ago, clocked 1:46:36, with Jonathan a further 20 seconds back.

First out of the water after 17min 36sec was Gomez, Spain's 2008 and 2010 world champion, at the head of a group of five that included both Brownlees, Richard Varga, from Slovakia, and Italy's Alessandro Fabian.

But the dreams of a British brothers' one-two was dealt a blow as the leaders exited the first transition zone, and Jonathan was judged to have mounted his bike too soon, incurring a 15-second penalty - the triathlon equivalent of a Formula 1 drive-through, except with the triathlete forced to stand in the "naughty box".

The race was over completely soon after that for Canada's 2000 Olympic champion, Simon Whitfield, as he crashed his bike in Hyde Park. But there were none of the high-speed pile-ups witnessed in Saturday's women's race.

The lead group's advantage had evaporated before they were halfway into the cycle ride, when the 17-strong chase group bridged the gap.

It also saw the British team's domestique, Stuart Hayes, able to do much of the pace-setting hard work on the front of the peloton in an effort to set up the run to Alistair Brownlee's advantage.

After an hour's riding, the 20 leaders returned to the transition area where Gomez was first into his racing shoes, followed by the Brownlee brothers, forming a powerful trio determined to settle the medals between them.

They set a furious pace that left the field straggling behind them as if they were Sunday morning joggers, quickly building a gap of 17seconds after the first of four 2.5km run laps around the lake.

With big brother Alistair pushing the pace at the front, the gap between the front three and the chasers was almost half a minute with 5km to run.

The first casualty of this brutal front-running was Brownlee's younger brother, who was unable to keep up with his sibling's sizzling pace.

Then a gap appeared between Brownlee and Gomez.

With the two Frenchmen, David Hauss and Vincent Luis, working together in fourth and fifth places, the younger Brownlee opted to take his penalty with a lap of the run to go.

He spent anxious seconds looking down the course as the challengers to his bronze medal got closer with every stride.

Yet he still emerged from the penalty box with a 12 second gap and just 2.5km left to run. It proved to be more than enough for him to go on to complete a piece of Olympic history.

He paid for his efforts, however, as the medal ceremony was delayed while he received an IV drip in the medical tent.

With two medals in the Olympic race, the Brownlees' domination of international triathlon is almost complete.

Even though world champion Alistair missed four months' racing earlier this year due to an Achilles tendon injury - he had a pool built in the bottom of his garden so that he might train by aqua-jogging - the pair have now won eight of 13 international world series races since the start of 2011.

Now they will own a piece of sporting history, since not since Raimondo D'Inzeo and his brother, Piero, the Italians, won gold and silver in the show-jumping at the 1960 Rome Games, have siblings both won medals in an individual Olympic event that they have contested together.

 

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