Alistair Brownlee’s Olympic future undecided after 4th place at 2018 European Championships

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Now what Alistair Brownlee? A fourth place finish kept the double Olympic champion triathlete off the podium at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow.

Brownlee was in the leading group after the 40km cycle but fell off the pace halfway through the 10k run.

I knew I was going to struggle on the run as I’ve not done enough sessions yet, but I enjoy racing. – Alistair Brownlee

Frenchman Pierre Le Corre was pushed all the way to the victory line by determined Spaniard Fernando Alarza, and Belgium’s Marten Van Riel took third place.

Alistair Brownlee racing at Glasgow 2018
Alistair Brownlee between Marten Van Riel and eventual race winner Pierre Le Corre at the European Championships Glasgow 2018 Triathlon. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Brownlee’s time was one hour 48 minutes 12 seconds, finishing 55 seconds behind Le Corre.

Injury woes

Known as the ‘Bingley Harrier’ in his native West Yorkshire, Brownlee has still not fully recovered from hip surgery and a calf injury he suffered over the past year.

I had a terrible six months, I’ve had a handful of run sessions so I can be quite pleased. I’m just happy to be racing. – Alistair Brownlee

A local hero in his hometown, Brownlee has Great Britain behind him hoping for a Tokyo fairytale but it may not happen.

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Alistair without mentioning Jonny Brownlee and their long tale of brotherly love, they finished first and second at Rio 2016:

Golden hat-trick at Tokyo 2020?

The London 2012 and Rio 2016 champ has yet to decide if he is going to try and win an unprecedented third Olympic triathlon at Tokyo 2020.

Tokyo is 50-50 at the moment – Alistair Brownlee

“Going into next year I’m going to start deciding whether to look at the Olympics, or whether I’m going to focus on doing the longer stuff over the next 18 months.

“The full Ironman is potentially not too far away. It depends on the decision I make going into next year.”

The Glasgow triathlon at the European Championships was only his second Olympic-distance triathlon since September 2016.

The long game

Now the reigning Olympic champion will turn his focus back to longer distances with a 140.6-mile Ironman, nearly four times the Olympic distance, a possibility.

He is expected to compete in the half Ironman world championships in South Africa next month.

All triathletes have the ambition to do the almost mystical Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. – Brownlee to the BBC in 2016

The man from Bramhope had planned to build up his endurance and go back and try it after Tokyo, but that was before the injuries.

Accentuating the positive

He won half Ironmans in Utah in May 2017 and Dubai in February of this year, then placed 10th in the Commonwealth Games sprint-distance triathlon in April.

He won another Ironman 70.3 in China the following week.

Brownlee was readying himself for a return to the ITU World Series circuit for Olympic hopefuls in June but pulled out of a race in Leeds due to “a few niggles.”

The future of a tilt at three gold medals in a row may come down to staying injury-free for the six months.


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Author: Ken Browne
Ken Browne is a multimedia journalist for the Olympic Channel.