We haven’t seen Jonny Brownlee for a while, which disconcerts us. The World Triathlon Series without one or more Brownlee is like a once great box set without a key character. Game of Thrones without Tyrion, say. Still entertaining, yes, but with its shine slightly dimmed.
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But much like the storm clouds heading in our direction, as we catch a brief chat between BBC filming commitments and swim practice, the 2015 season has been somewhat turbulent for the 2012 ITU World Champion.
“Turbulent’s a good way of describing it actually. I had a slow start to the year in Abu Dhabi, one of the best races of my life in Auckland. I really shouldn’t have won that race. And then the puncture in London [where Jonny would finish 42nd]. And I think I really could have taken it to [winner] Alistair there.”
With injury grounding all the top GB contenders, both male and female, at various points throughout this season, it was Jonny’s turn in August when a hairline fracture in his femur reared its badly-timed head, curtailing his chance to tick off part one of the two-part GB Olympic qualification process at the Rio Test Event. He must have been climbing the walls…
“I wasn’t too bad actually. When I know exactly what I need to do I’m pretty good at sticking to it. And it meant I got to do loads of things I wouldn’t usually do – I went to watch Wimbledon, saw Leeds Rhinos, visited my parents in Spain, played FIFA Manager and Call of Duty…”
On the flip side, this enforced mid-season break has meant he’s now seriously short on run volume. “These guys [racing this weekend] have probably done more in the last week than I have in the last few months,” he admits.
So Brownlee fans, brace yourselves. If you’re expecting a resplendent comeback of the kind more frequently demonstrated by the more injury-prone of the two brothers, Alistair, then you could be sadly disappointed come Saturday. Expectations are low for the forthcoming Grand Final race. Currently 13th in the rankings, and with Alistair out following ankle surgery, the world title will not be returning to Yorkshire in 2015.
Then again, we could have just witnessed the best poker face ever played. But knowing Jonny he’s nothing if not self-deprecatingly honest. “You know how much I like to plan, and I’m always prepared for races. But for this one, I just don’t know how it will go.”
He’s also decided the race, and therefore the title, is reigning champ Javier Gomez’s. “I’ll help him get it with a swim-bike break if I can.”
Even if he doesn’t mount the podium this weekend, it’s still grand to have him back.