Alex Yee: Background, career highlights, quotes

Double Olympic medallist Alex Yee’s professional triathlon career may have started with a bang, but it's been a long journey to the top. Here's how he did it...

Who is Alex Yee?

You may not have heard of him before he broke onto the triathlon scene with a double Olympic medal haul at Tokyo 2020, but Alex Yee’s been working his way up the triathlon ranks for years. 

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Here’s how Yee went from Crystal Palace Triathlon Club age-grouper, to being awarded an MBE for his services to triathlon, in just the space of a few years…

Who is Alex Yee?

Alex Yee is a British professional triathlete from Lewisham, London. At the ripe age of 23 in 2021, he became an Olympian gold medallist and Super League Triathlon champion.

Yee first took his place on the world stage in the 2016 ITU Junior Duathlon Championships in Aviles, where he took gold and later went on to win the SportsAid ‘One to Watch’ award which was presented to him by Sir Mo Farah.

Marked for great things, 2017 didn’t go to plan, however, with Yee colliding with another competitor into a concrete bollard during the bike leg of the 2017 ITU World Cup in Cagliari, suffering serious, season-ending injuries.

The next year in 2018 is when things really started to pick up pace for Yee, whose background in track saw him claim a personal best in the 10,000m and narrowly missing out on setting an all-time British under-23 record.

The remainder of the season saw Yee take home a smattering of top 10 ETU and ITU finishes, along with a podium-position in Weihai where he achieved his first bronze in senior racing.

The following year in 2019, Yee consolidated on past performances with a bunch of top five finishes, coming second to Mario Mola at the World Triathlon race in Abu Dhabi and topping the podium twice in team relay events.

Skipping ahead to 2021, Covid-19 had seen a halt to most professional racing for the good part of a year, but promising times were ahead for young Yee, who’d since turned 23.

Fast-forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (which actually took place in 2021) and Yee shone on the world stage, proving himself an absolute powerhouse on the run and all-round strong competitor. Yee claimed Olympic silver in the men’s individual race and gold for Great Britain in the mixed relay.

But the season wasn’t over and Yee went on to compete in the high-octane Super League Triathlon series, claiming the series win for 2021. A year later and he was Commonwealth champion on debut, on home soil, and on the finest form.

How old is Alex Yee?

Credit: Getty Images

Alex Yee is currently 24-years-old and was born on 18 February 1998 in Lewisham, London.

Alex Yee’s career highlights

Here’s a break down of the key moments in Yee’s career so far, learn who has inspired his career and what he’s set his sights on for 2022.

August 2012: Watches Brownlee brothers’ success in London 2012

Among thousands in Hyde Park to see British triathlon Olympic medal success for the first time – proving that a dream could become reality.

June 2017: Suffers horror bike crash in Italy

A week before sitting his A-levels, Yee collides with a concrete bollard in his first World Cup race in Cagliari, suffering broken ribs, vertebrae and a collapsed lung.

May 2018: Wins British 10,000m title on debut

Defeats veterans Andy Vernon and Chris Thompson at Highgate to take national title in 27:51:94 – barely 5secs outside Dave Bedford’s British U23 record set in 1971.

July 2018: Runs 13:34mins over 5,000m at London Anniversary Games

A first taste of Diamond League action against world’s best track runners in Olympic stadium. Yee returns the following year to improve his PB by 5secs.

September 2018: Races first-ever Olympic distance triathlon

Credit: Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon

Yee scores a top ten in his first Olympic triathlon at the U23 Worlds in Queensland, Australia.

February/March 2019: Makes mark on world senior stage

Wins first World Cup in Cape Town then finishes runner-up to world champion Mario Mola in Abu Dhabi on his World Series debut. The world starts to pay attention.

June 2021: Wins first World Series race in Leeds

Secures Olympic qualification and thrills bumper home crowd in Roundhay Park and a live audience on BBC with accomplished all-around victory.

July 2021: Wins Olympic silver and gold

Credit: Getty Images

Takes on Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt and Kiwi Hayden Wilde to finish second in the Tokyo 2020 men’s individual race, taking home a silver medal for Great Britain.

Anchors Team GB’s mixed team relay squad to inaugural Olympic title five days after finishing runner-up to a charging Blummenfelt in individual race.

August 2021: Misses out on world title in Edmonton

Despite being the fastest 10km run by 40secs, finishes 11th and must settle for third in the series as Blummenfelt adds world title to Olympic success.

September 2021: Hero’s return for first leg of Super League Triathlon

Sun and crowds out for a return to racing on home soil in London’s docklands as SLT starts four-week mini-season. Finishes fifth in Triple Mix format.

September 2021: Wins Super League Triathlon title in Malibu

Alex Yee beats Marten van Riel in Malibu to win the 2021 Super League Series. (Credit: Super League)

After placing third in Munich and winning in Jersey, Yee takes the overall crown after beating Marten van Riel in a sprint finish in California and scoops $120k.

New Years 2022: Appointed an MBE

Yee was appointed a Member of the British Empire (MBE) during New Years Honours for his services to triathlon, along with his fellow relay gold medallists: Jonny Brownlee, Jess Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown.

May 2022:  Becomes a virtual world champion

Wins the inaugural Esports Triathlon World Championship in Singapore.

May 2022: Wins the first World Triathlon race of the year

Battles with Wilde throughout the race but just edges him in the home stretch to take first blood of 2022 in Yokohama.

June 2022: Crashes and crowns

A crash at the Leeds WTCS event at the start of the month sees him DNF from what could have been a race for the ages. He fairs better than teammate Jonny Brownlee, though, who suffers a broken elbow from the same collision.

Two weeks later, Yee’s in Montreal and back to his winning ways in the individual event and silver in the mixed relay.

July 2022: Wins the biggest title to date

Alex Yee wins the 2022 Commonwealth Games triathlon race. (Credit: Ben Lumley/World Triathlon)

In his first Commonwealth Games he takes not only gold but also Team England’s first medal of the Games on home soil. It’s a hard-fought-for win over Wilde, with Yee’s killer 5k run speed and a contentious penalty for the Kiwi bagging the young Brit a huge career victory.

Two days later he follows in Alistair Brownlee‘s footsteps at the 2014 Commonwealths with a second gold in the mixed relay.

October 2022: Wins in Cagliari 

Lays the 2017 race ghosts to rest as he takes a commanding win in Sardinia. It’s a red-ticket day for Team GB, as Jonny Brownlee finishes second and Taylor-Brown wins the women’s race.

November 2022: Finishes second in the world 

Alex Yee crosses the Abu Dhabi Grand Final line in fourth place to finish second overall in the 2022 WTCS. (Credit: Wagner Araujo (@wags.photo)/World Triathlon)

Aiming for a podium at the penultimate race of the season to ensure a title lead into the Grand Final in Abu Dhabi, he can only manage fifth after missing the lead bike group. He heads to the desert in second behind Wilde.

In the desert, all eyes are on Wilde and Yee but both miss the lead bike pack and leave it all to the final 10k. What neither of them bank on, though, is Frenchman Leo Bergere having the race of his career. With Wilde soon out of contention and Bergere holding strong in first place, Yee has to finish third or above to claim his first world title.

But Belgian Jelle Geens has other plans – beating the Brit to bronze in the final strait. Bergere takes his first WTCS race win and world title, Yee finishes fourth and second overall in the Series. The ever pragmatic Yee simply says, “that’s racing”.

Alex Yee quotes

On being inspired by London 2012: “I feel I’m a product of London 2012. To have the Olympics on my doorstep and watch Ali and Jonny fly by really lit a fire for me.”

On his horror crash in Italy: “It gave me perspective, you realise that health is the No. 1 thing. And it gave me clarity that I loved triathlon.”

On winning his first WTCS race in Leeds: “My most complete race of the year – a proud moment that made me believe in myself and what I was doing. I remember being so present and able to make such clear race decisions. I was really living.”

On missing out on the world title in Edmonton: “Edmonton was a learning curve, and I’m at complete peace that I didn’t win because I don’t feel I’m at that point where I can call myself a world champ.”

On racing the Super League Triathlon series in 2021: “The SLT format doesn’t really suit me, but I found a way to be competitive. Racing in London is just different gravy, the support was incredible. Another highlight was the sprint finish with Jonny in Jersey.”

On his first world title win at the Esports  Champs: “I came here to race the best that I could, and I’ve been rewarded for my performances. My swim has been a massive project for me this winter and I’ve worked meticulously on it, so I’m really pleased that it paid off.”

On winning the 2022 Commonwealth title: “It’s a bit of a fairytale isn’t it? I’ve worked hard for this. And I’m just proud that I could do it for Team England, for myself, my family, for everyone.”

What’s next for Yee?

Yee aims to ‘be competitive in any race scenario’, with plans to work hard on the individual disciplines, breakout speeds and the physiology of cold-water swimming.

One thing’s for sure, there are more great things to come for Alex Yee. Watch this space.

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Top image credit: Getty Images