A Commonwealth Games without the Brownlee brothers – here is why

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It’s almost unthinkable but the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will host elite triathlon races without either of the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny.

You have to go back 16 long years to the Melbourne Commonwealths of 2006 to find a major Games which didn’t involve either of the Yorkshire superstars as part of Team England or Team GB.

Given they were both at school then, it’s harder to go back any further!

  • Olympic Games, Tokyo 2020 (2021) – Jonny
  • Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018 – Alistair / Jonny
  • Olympic Games, Rio 2016 – Alistair / Jonny
  • Commonwealth Games, Glasgow 2014 –  Alistair / Jonny
  • Olympic Games, London 2012 – Alistair / Jonny
  • Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010 – No Triathlon
  • Olympic Games, Beijing 2008 – Alistair

It’s been a glorious run with medals of all varieties in large quantities, as Alistair and Jonny both produced incredible performances to put British triathlon firmly on the map.

Sadly the run is over (for now) and here is why neither of them will be taking part in Birmingham:

Why is Alistair Brownlee not racing?

Quite simply the 34-year-old two-time Olympic champion has moved on from short-course triathlon (check out all the various triathlon distances in our guide).

He made the decision after enduring what he himself described as “three months from hell” trying to qualify for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo. He lost that battle against an ankle injury though and was eventually forced to undergo surgery.

Alistair is now concentrating on long-course triathlon which means predominantly the iconic Ironman distance – which sees athletes cover a total of 140.6miles.

So far 2022 has been extremely frustrating though for Alistair. He finished fourth on his return from that surgery at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside in April but was suffering from an illness at the time.

A month later Alistair was forced by illness to pull out of the delayed 2021 IRONMAN World Championship on the very eve of the race in St George, Utah.

Then in late May he was forced due to a hip problem to pull out of the much-hyped Sub7Sub8 Project in Germany, in which he and current Olympic Champion Kristian Blummenfelt would both have tried to go under 7 hours for the Ironman distance.

Alistair did return to action at the inaugural PTO Canadian Open in Edmonton, but after vying for the lead on the swim and bike, he struggled on the run with what appeared to be stomach issues, eventually finishing 24th.

Why is Jonny Brownlee not racing?

So Jonny has not retired from short-course racing, he is very much still a mainstay of Team GB, but his hopes of figuring at Birmingham suffered a major blow in early June.

The 32-year-old star crashed out of WTCS Leeds in his home city in the early stages of the bike along with fellow British hope Alex Yee. Ironically another major Commonwealth Games contender – Kiwi Hayden Wilde – admitted after that he had been partly to blame for the crash.

The end result was Jonny revealing that he had suffered a broken elbow in the crash, leaving his Birmingham bid in serious doubt. But while the elbow appeared to be healing fine, another issue from that crash would eventually ruin his hopes.

Speaking on July 12, he said: “I’m desperately disappointed. I was very positive after my original diagnosis about being fit for Birmingham. 

“My elbow was getting better by the day, but my wrist wasn’t. The scan revealed I have a fractured scaphoid and for the benefit of my long term health, it needs to go in a cast.”

So there you have it, for the first time in 16 years we have a major Games without a Brownlee brother.


Alistair Brownlee major Games medals

Alistair is the only two-time Olympic Triathlon Champion to date after those memorable successes in London and Rio in 2012 and 2016.

He also claimed Commonwealth Games golds at Glasgow in both the individual and Mixed Relay events, before taking a Mixed Relay silver at Gold Coast in 2018.

Jonny Brownlee major Games medals

No wonder Jonny would famously say after Tokyo 2021: “Olympics, completed it mate”.

The Mixed Relay gold he claimed along with Jess Learmonth, Georgia Taylor-Brown and the aforementioned Yee completed the full set of Olympic medals for the Yorkshireman. He had claimed silver behind Alistair in the individual event in Rio in 2016, and bronze at London 2012.

As for the Commonwealths, Jonny claimed Mixed Relay gold with Alistair at Glasgow 2014 and took the individual silver behind his brother. He would take Mixed Relay silver at Gold Coast in 2018.

Graham Shaw
Written by
Graham Shaw
Graham has been involved with TRI247 & RUN247 since the summer of 2021. Since then he has provided strategic direction for all news and is passionate about the growth of triathlon as a fan sport.
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