LONDON (Reuters) – Jonny Brownlee has been selected in the British triathlon team for the Tokyo Olympics, where he will seek to complete his medal set after winning bronze and silver previously, but his brother and double Olympic champion Alistair will have to wait.
Jonny Brownlee, who finished third in London in 2012 and second in Rio, was the only male of four athletes selected on Wednesday, with one, or possibly two slots still to be filled.
Vicky Holland, the 2018 world champion and Olympic bronze medallist in Rio when she outsprinted compatriot and best friend Non Stanford, was also selected for what will be her third Games.
Georgia Taylor-Brown, winner of this year’s one-off world championship race, and Jess Learmonth, the 2019 world championship silver medallist, complete a strong women’s lineup.
But it is the absence of Alistair Brownlee that will raise eyebrows in the sport. After years of domination, he moved on to tackle the Ironman distance and though he returned his focus to the 1,500-metre swim, 40km bike and 10km format last year, he is off the pace in terms of rankings, leaving the selectors with a headache over the remaining discretionary picks.
Tom Bishop and Alex Yee were the in-form athletes before the season was cut short by COVID-19. With officials yet to discover whether they will have two or three slots to fill, performance director Mike Cavendish, who will make the decision in the spring of 2021, could say only on Wednesday that Alistair remains “very much on the radar”.
Hoping he will make the cut, is his younger brother. “Of course I want him there,” Jonny told a virtual news conference. “I would love to be on the start line with Alistair.
“That would hopefully also improve my chances of winning a medal as we like to race in a similar way, but I believe, as I did in London and in Rio, that I can beat him. The medal I’m missing is the gold and I wouldn’t be going to Tokyo if I didn’t think I could win it.
“We still don’t really know what the selection criteria is but I’m sure if Alistair’s fit he’ll have a great chance of making it.”
As well as the men’s and women’s events, Tokyo will also include the debut of the mixed relay, with the British team comprised of those athletes selected for the individual race.
(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Christian Radnedge)