As he stood in Hyde Park almost misty-eyed, talking with such passion about the Brownlees at London 2012, you had to imagine Vincent Luis was thinking ahead to Paris 2024.
The iconic race which saw Alistair take gold and Jonny claim bronze clearly left an indelible mark on Vincent’s memory. The passion of a home crowd which literally made the ground shake, and the way they cheered their favourites to Olympic glory.
Luis stood again at the starting point for that 2012 Olympic men’s triathlon during filming for the latest episode of his Super League Triathlon documentary series, which was released this week. He remembered it like it was just yesterday.
Vincent Luis on London 2012
“It was crazy, I think they said it was one million people or something. That was insane, that was big.
“I remember they called us on the pontoon for the line-up and everything. At the Olympics you’re not called by your world ranking, but just by the pontoon draw or whatever.
“The French, we were already on the pontoon and then when they called the two brothers, I remember the noise – that was crazy, the ground was shaking. I remember everyone in the pontoon looking at each other, like what the f*** is happening! That was insane.
“These guys, the pressure they had, and they delivered – honestly respect them because they had their names everywhere, pictures on the bus, everywhere – and yet they did it. That was crazy. Eleven years ago. Makes me feel old.”
Luis may feel old but at 32 he is far from done at the highest level – he will be 35 by the time the Olympics lands in his home nation in 2024.
A tiny taste of Paris 2024
He got a tiny taste in a COVID world of what it might be like to enjoy success at home after winning Mixed Relay bronze in Tokyo, courtesy of a post-Japan celebration in Paris. It was not something he was initially looking forward to though after finishing 13th in the Individual race on the back of an injury-hit preparation.
“Obviously before the race I was looking forward to showing the gold medal around but it’s not the case. Beforehand I just don’t feel it’s something useful, I was thinking ‘nobody will be there, it’s gonna be a waste of time’.
“But then you just see the smile of the people, the smile of the kids when they can carry the medal and touch it, and it’s nice for people to actually see the athletes and feel a bit of the vibes from the Olympics.”
(Another) Olympic countdown
Thanks to COVID, the Olympic runway to Paris is already a short one, and thoughts inevitably turn to 2024 and what lies between now and then.
“Next Olympics is three years, it’s really short. You can’t waste weeks and days of training,” said Luis.
“I better make good use of the next three years because they will be the last three years of my short-distance career. I just want to enjoy every single day, just having fun, doing what I love to do.
“Get out and train no matter if it rains or if it’s sunny – doing whatever I want to do and whatever I love to do. And yeah, just making the most of the next three years.”