By Merryn Sherwood on 06/08/12 at 4:50 pm
The Brownlee brothers might be the overwhelming favourites in the men’s triathlon competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but as history goes to show, nothing is certain in this event. Here is a quick snapshot of who to watch for in Hyde Park on Tuesday August 7.
Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
The eldest Brownlee has two ITU World Championships, 12 ITU World Triathlon Series wins (nine more than anyone else) and is one of the best swimmers, bikers and runners the sport has ever seen. Any lingering concerns from an Achilles injury he suffered at the start of the year were put to bed in a dominant comeback win in Kitzbuehel this year. If there is an athlete that seems destined to break the curse of the test event winner never taking Olympic gold, it would be Brownlee.
Jonathan Brownlee (GBR)
The younger Brownlee brother dominated his first two races this year, in San Diego and Madrid, but is yet to beat his older brother when fit over the Olympic distance. He did outrun him in last year’s Lausanne sprint distance world titles, and in Sydney in 2011 when Alistair slipped and fell on a rain-slicked road, but London could be his time to shine. The same as his brother, Jonathan excels in all three disciplines.
Sven Riederer (SUI)
The Athens 2004 Olympic Games bronze medallist knows how to perform on the day, prefers race conditions wet and cold and last year ran over Jonathan Brownlee in the Beijing Grand Final to finish second. He will have no doubt all been inspired by teammate Nicola Spirig’s incredible win in the women’s triathlon competition in London on Saturday.
Alexander Bryukhankov (RUS)
The big Russian is the most successful man in ITU World Triathlon Series history yet to actually win a race. He’s collected five silver medals, including in last year’s test event – sandwiched between the Brownlees on the podium – and one bronze. It’s only a matter of time before that win comes, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it did come in Hyde Park on Tuesday given he’s another all-round strong triathlete.
Javier Gomez (ESP)
Gomez was the favourite in Beijing, but carried an injury into those Games and finished an agonising fourth. Back with that experience in his mind, the dual ITU World Champion has engaged in some thrilling battles with the Brownlees and when both Alistair and Jonathan have made the podium – he’s been the man most often up there with him. In the six ITU major races where the Brownlees have both medalled, Gomez has been there three times.
Richard Murray (RSA)
The South African burst onto the elite scene in Sydney this year, with a barnstorming run to claim silver in the opening ITU World Triathlon Series race of 2012. Proving it wasn’t a fluke, he then went on to bronze in San Diego and then claimed his first series win in the Hamburg sprint. If it comes down to the run, his speed and general tenacity means he can’t be discounted.
Steffen Justus (GER)
If this race is decided on the run, then Justus should feature. His father raced in the 1500m at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games and Justus has inherited some brilliant speed, he was one of only five athletes to run below 30 minutes in the London event last year. This year he claimed his first series win in Sydney and backed it up with bronze in Hamburg.
Jan Frodeno (GER)
The defending gold medallist had the element of surprise on his side in Beijing, it was his first ITU win. In the last 12 months he has struggled with injury and hasn’t posted a win since his series victory in Seoul in 2010. But with the chance to become the first athlete in Olympic history to defend triathlon gold still there, it’s hard to write him off.
Bevan Docherty (NZL)
He might be one of the veterans in the field, but Docherty is the only man to have won medals at two consecutive Olympic Games and has always alluded to the fact that he would like to complete his medal set with gold (he won silver in Athens and bronze in Beijing). His best chance lies in a breakaway, he was part of a successful one in Athens, so watch for him in the 43km bike leg.
Simon Whitfield (CAN)
One of only two men to qualify for four consecutive Olympics, Whitfield is notable for not just being there but for winning gold at the very first attempt in Sydney and then silver in Beijing eight years later. His recent form suggests that he can’t run fast enough to seriously challenge the Brownlees, but his record on the Olympic podium states it’s hard not to include him when it comes to athletes to watch.
The men’s triathlon competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games gets underway at 11.30am (local time) on Tuesday 7 August. Check listings with your national Olympic broadcaster for viewing details. There will be no live stream or timing from ITU, but you can follow the race with live text at triathlon.org/live and on Twitter through @ITUonline and @triathlonlive
Find more details about this event - 2012 London Olympic Games