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Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Brownlee on what success means to him

Jonny Brownlee on what success means to him in his career at the top of the sport.

Staff Reporter
Last updated -
T100 Triathlon World Tour
Redefining triathlon

One of Britain’s most decorated triathletes, Jonathan Brownlee has experienced his fair share of success in a career that has so far spanned three Olympic Games, with a fourth appearance next year in Paris up for grabs.

The Yorkshireman, who has a full set of Olympic medals, didn’t have the season he would have hoped for in 2023, but British Triathlon Performance Director Mike Cavendish is one of the 33-year-old’s many supporters who believe he shouldn’t be “counted out” ahead of next season.

In a recent interview with Super League Triathlon, Brownlee shared how challenging recent performances have brought about more introspection, his disbelief at where triathlon has taken him and what success now means to him.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about what motivates me”

Having spent more than a decade at the top of the sport, Brownlee revealed that over the past few years, in particular during the current Olympic cycle, he has reflected more and more on the success in his career.

Jonny Brownlee pre race event Neom 2023 photo credit Super League
[Photo credit: Super League]

“Success means for me achieving the small things everyday that allows you then to go on and achieve something even bigger.

“I’ve actually done a lot of thinking about what motivates me and what I see as success and I really enjoy starting the day knowing I have some goals I want to achieve and then finishing the day having achieved those goals.

“I think success means I achieve those goals and it doesn’t always need to be in sport. There are obvious goals, like making sure you have the best swim or run session, but there are other goals as well, like making sure you eat well and have a balanced lifestyle and do things outside of the sport.

“Success for me means achieving all those things that I want to achieve everyday, which in time leads to the ultimate successes.” 

“A massive journey” in the sport

From early beginnings in the sport, which included sessions at the local swim club and cross country practice during lunchtime at school, Brownlee has emerged as one of the best-ever short course triathletes. Looking back, he said he’d achieved more than he ever expected.

“It’s been a massive journey to get to this point and I’ve only really realised that over the past few years. Thinking about how you start off as a young athlete, […], all the way through to qualifying for Great Britain for the first time, then to a home Olympic Games and to where we are today, it’s been an incredible journey and one thing I haven’t done great in my career is stepped back and looked at things.

“It’s more the bad races that make you think about your career. Having spent so long being on the podium in most races I’ve done, these difficult races have made me think about why I do this, what my motivation is and appreciate the good times as when you’re successful, it’s just straight on to the next one and you don’t take the time to reflect.

“I genuinely thought Tokyo was going to be the end of my Olympic career, so that what really got me thinking about this a bit more and it’s been an incredible journey, I know it’s cliche, but if someone told me I’d be sat here with Olympic medals and World Championships, I’d say no way, but it’s been an amazing journey.” 


Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
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