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Injuries mean Alistair Brownlee may have to be more selective
The demands on his body may mean Alistair Brownlee is unable to challenge for the World Triathlon Series title in the future.
The 25-year-old Bingley Harrier was the favourite to win a third world crown in London last weekend but an ankle injury severely hampered him on the ten-kilometre run and he finished down in 52nd place.
Despite his phenomenal success, Brownlee has frequently suffered injuries and only recovered from an Achilles problem just in time to win gold at the Olympics last year.
The world title has been decided over a series of races for the last five years, with athletes needing to compete in five events around the world to stand a chance of winning.
Bramhope-based Brownlee said: “I’m not convinced the series is necessarily a good thing for me. I’ve thought that for a while. It’s tough on the body but it’s also fantastic to race and it’s fantastic to watch.
“It’s a shame but if it’s not for me I’m going to have to make a decision at some point just to select races.
“If I asked myself this season, would I have preferred to win the three races I did or preferred to be fully fit and win London, even if it meant I came lower in the series, I would have preferred to win this race.”
The relentless nature of the series means Brownlee has not been able to recover from the injury he first suffered with four months ago and he came close to not even starting Sunday's race.
He said: “Various different things have been wrong in the same ankle and I think they’ve moved around one thing to another.
“It’s like anything, when you’ve got a bit of an injury you need a sustained time of rest and rehabilitation to get it better, and one fact of having a series and I suppose me being so stubborn and trying to do the series is you’ve got to race quite frequently.
“It just hasn’t had the chance to settle down. I’m going to have a rest now and try to find out what’s definitely wrong with it and see what I need to do to get it better.”
It had been an almost perfect weekend for British Triathlon until Sunday, with Non Stanford winning the women’s race to be crowned world champion and Jodie Stimpson finishing second in the series.
With Alistair Brownlee down the field, his brother Jonny was in pole position to win the world title but was pipped to both the race and the overall crown by Spain’s Javier Gomez.
Performance director Brendan Purcell hopes a solution can be found to Alistair’s injury problems.
He said: “It’s been an awesome competition from the British athletes, from the juniors and the paratriathletes through to the under-23s and the seniors.
“We wanted to see Alistair and Jonny finish on top of the podium but it wasn’t to be. There are mixed emotions but that race is why you want to be involved in elite sport, for it to come down to the line like that and with so many people watching.
“Alistair’s had a tough year. He’s been chasing it all season.
“But just because things have been done one way doesn’t mean they can’t be done better. We’ll work with Alistair and his team hopefully to make sure he can compete in as many races as possible.”
Despite Gomez’s victory, Britain remains the dominant force in triathlon, to the satisfaction of Purcell, who took up his role at the start of the year.
He said: “Non was absolutely awesome. One of the key things for me is when there’s an expectation can you deliver? And she was exceptional.
“We are in really strong position. Things have gone pretty well but there are always things we can do to improve and we’ll be spending time with the athletes and coaches to work that out.”
As many as 200,000 spectators watched the race on Sunday, while 8,500 people from more than 80 countries competed over four days of races.
London & Partners, the organisation that helps bring major sporting events to the capital, estimates the overall economic benefit from hosting the triathlon to be as much as £10 - £8m more than it cost to stage.
It also hopes London will continue to stage a race in the world series.
Iain Edmondson, the head of major events, said: “It’s been an even better event than the Olympic Games for economic impact for one sport. As an event, this is a really big deal.
“We’re close to announcing an event next year, in June probably. And fingers crossed we’ll have the plans in place for future years as well.”
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