Good Causes

Jonny says lockdown may aid quest for Olympic gold

If it wasn’t for the coronavirus pandemic, the opening ceremony of The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games would have been held on 24th July 2020. Instead, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad will take place from 23rd July to 8th August 2021. The postponement – the first in Olympic history – means there is exactly a year to go before The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games get underway in the Japanese capital. In this interview, Team GB triathlete Jonny Brownlee (pictured on the left next to his brother, Alistair, in the image above) discusses the impact of the postponement, the challenge of training during lockdown and the pressures of adding an Olympic gold medal to the bronze and silver he won in London and Rio.

Olympic gold has so far eluded Jonny Brownlee, but the British triathlete isn’t feeling the pressure to complete his medal collection at next year’s rearranged Tokyo Games.

Jonny bagged bronze at the London 2012 Games before moving one step higher and winning a silver medal in Rio four years later. His elder brother Alistair won gold on both occasions.

Alistair’s decision to defend his Olympic triathlon crown in Tokyo at the age of 33 means he will once again lock horns with Jonny on sport’s biggest stage.

Not that the prospect of winning his first Olympic gold is keeping the younger Brownlee up at night. The 30-year-old, who is one of 1100 athletes on UK Sport’s World Class Programme, funded by The National Lottery, said, “As I’m getting older, into what is my last Olympic Games, that experience is helping me a lot and having those medals does take some of the pressure off. I can go into Tokyo and treat it as a bonus.”

Jonny believes the postponement of the Tokyo Games may actually work in his favour. He said, “This 12 months will actually help me. My body hasn’t been in a great place, I’ve had some niggles and injuries that mean I haven’t been able to train to the best of my ability, but this lockdown has allowed me to get over them. I’m probably the fittest I’ve been since Rio.

“Tokyo will be even more special after this lockdown. It will be a great time for sport, the world will be watching in its new normal.

“It will be my last Olympic Games – hopefully I’ll be there going for two medals – as an individual and in the mixed team – to hopefully cap off a great Olympic career. If someone told me I would win two Olympic medals, I wouldn't have believed them. So anything I get hereon is a massive bonus for me.”

Jonny’s spot on the World Class Programme supported by funding from National Lottery players, allows him to train full time and benefit from technology, science and medical support. And while training for swimming, cycling and running events has mostly been put on hold due to the pandemic, the Yorkshireman has certainly not been short of things to do.

After abandoning his training camp in America, he’s converted his conservatory into a heat chamber and enjoyed some rare time at home.

Jonny, whose two medals have contributed to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic honours won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since National Lottery funding began in 1997, said, “Keeping busy hasn’t been a problem – being a triathlete, it’s very easy to keep busy. I can never sit still, I’m always up to stuff.

“One of the positives that has come out of this lockdown period is local communities coming together and helping people out, talking to people and sharing experiences. Even to just have a friendly face to say hello to has been very important.”

He added, “My career would not have been possible without National Lottery players – they’ve allowed me to win two Olympic medals and to be where I am now. I’m so very grateful to all the players, they’ve allowed me to be the best athlete I can be for the past 15 years, and hopefully I have a few more years left to go.”

23rd July 2020

Photo header: Jonny Brownlee (LEFT) and brother Alistair (RIGHT) on the podium in Rio.

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