‘Don’t remember me as the wobbly horse down the finishing line’

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Jonny Alistair Brownlee on dramatic end to World Triathlon Series

Triathlete Jonny Brownlee says he wants to be remembered for his Olympic achievements – and not looking like “a wobbly horse down the finishing line”.

Brownlee, 26, won silver at Rio 2016 and bronze in London four years earlier, finishing behind older brother and double gold medallist Alistair, 28, both times.

But Jonny says he will be forever grateful to his brother for carrying him to the line in a dramatic finale to the World Triathlon Series in Mexico.

Jonny was leading the race in Cozumel and on course to win the title but began to struggle from heat exhaustion around 1.5km from the finish.

Temperatures were around 33C during the race, which consists of a 1.5km swim, 40km cycle and 10km run.

The younger Brownlee brother was treated in hospital after the race before being released to recover at the team hotel.

“Alistair had the chance to win but threw that away to help me out,” he said.

“I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life. Obviously it takes a very strong and good person to do that,” Jonny told BBC Sport.

“Sometimes in sport we talk about winning being the most important thing in the world – and a lot of times it is – but maybe helping a brother out was more important.”

As it happened – in their own words

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Jonny Brownlee helped over finish line by brother Alistair in Mexico

Jonny: “I remember it all very clearly. The whole race went very, very well until about 1.5km to go.

“And then it all kind of fell apart. I remember my legs going a little bit wobbly and thinking ‘I’m not going to make it to the finish line’.

“I remember Alistair coming past me and saying ‘you can make it’.

“And then my last memory is falling over the finish line and getting carried off.

“The last 200 metres seemed to take a long long time.

“You’re not really thinking straight I was just thinking ‘I need someone to hold me up’.

“At one point I was thinking ‘thank you Alistair’ and half of me was thinking ‘just leave me alone, let me fall to the floor and I’d get to rest’.”

Alistair: “First I was just thinking, ‘what an idiot’.

“He could have won this race so easily and he’s been tactically so ridiculous. It serves him right really.

“I didn’t really think too much about what I did. I’ve been in that position before, thought I’d finished second – and then woke up up thinking why people hadn’t helped me out.

“I didn’t really think too much about what I did next.

“I’ve been in that position before in London maybe six years ago. I remember being in second trying to win the race and then waking up and being told I’d come 10th.

“I was like: ‘why didn’t all those people who came past me help me out?’.

“So I just didn’t give it a second thought, really. I thought I just had to help him get to the finish line.

“I turned my phone on this morning and it went a bit mad, buzzing away with tweets and messages from people.

“It’s fantastic. Anything that gives us the chance to talk about triathlon and encourage people to get active is a brilliant thing.

“But I think both of us are thinking this isn’t really what you want to be remembered for because at the end of the day Jonny lost the world series.

“Sport is a beast with two heads. You have to be the most massively competitive person in the world to win stuff but then there is the room to do special things as well.

“It was literally a spur of the moment decision to do the right thing.

“I sat for an hour after the race thinking: ‘Did I do the right thing? Would he have received medical attention quicker if I’d just left him? Is it the wrong thing to carry someone over the line?’

“But the reaction has been nice to reassure me that maybe it was the right thing to do.”

Jonny: “The reaction’s been amazing. When I turned my phone on I saw JK Rowling and Gordon Ramsay were tweeting about it.

“It’s nice to get messages of support and respect for the sport we do and how hard it is; respect for Alistair for doing the right thing and doing good sportsmanship.

“I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who looked like a wobbly horse down the finishing line, but hopefully what I’ve done in the Olympics and other good races.

“At the end of the day I’m a competitor and I wanted to win the world championship.

“When you’ve been through what we’ve been through together you know someone’s going to help you out and it shows true loyalty and respect for each other.

“I like to think I’d have done the same for Alistair.”

Alistair: “The loyalty thing is important, but more important is that sport is fantastic up to a line and once someone is in a bad way you’ve gone over that line.

“You’re not really racing them any more. I didn’t really see it like I was racing Jonny any more because he was in that state.

“For me it would have been unfair to beat him in that state and also it was a pretty serious, life-threatening situation so to get him over the line is the right thing to do.”


Jonny slumped to the ground just centimetres over the finish line

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