Britain’s Alistair Brownlee, the hot favourite to take the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series men’s title and be crowned the 2009 World Champion, today declared himself fit and ready to take on the challenge at Saturday’s Grand Final on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Brownlee, the 21 year old from Leeds whose brother Jonathan, 19, is contesting the junior men’s title on the Gold Coast this weekend, has scored four series victories so far and has reached the Gold Coast as the current World no.1.
His wins came in Madrid, Washington DC, Kitzbuhel and London and he only needs to finish in fifth place or better on Saturday to become senior World Champion for the first time.
Brownlee’s closest challenger is the defending champion and the only man to beat him this year, at the European Championships, Spaniard Javier Gomez.
If Gomez can win on the Gold Coast and Brownlee finishes sixth or worse, then the title will go to the Spaniard.
Brownlee remains confident about his chances. Speaking from the British Triathlon Training Camp on the Gold Coast he said: “I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve been here for a week now and I think I’ve got over the journey and the jetlag and I’m looking forward to racing.”
Brownlee won Madrid and Washington DC with a breakaway and Kitzbühel and London by posting the fastest run. He has proven that he can win from any front position and says he won’t be employing any new race tactics in the final.
“No, I definitely won’t be changing anything. In a triathlon final anything can happen. Strategy goes out the window quite often and you’ve got to be able to cope with any situation.
“Sometimes they [the races] don’t go quite right so I just get ready to race one of a million different ways,” he said.
With thirteen triathletes having a mathematical chance of taking the men’s title, there have been fears countries may use team tactics to target the talented young British athlete – separating him from his opposition and orchestrating a breakaway.
But Brownlee said he’s not expecting any collusion.“I can’t see team tactics taking a role on the day, but we’ll wait and see,” he said.
Reigning world women’s champion Helen Jenkins, from Bridgend, said she’s enjoying the luxury of ‘flying under the radar’ leading into the Gold Coast event.
She’s currently sitting in sixth place behind American Sarah Haskins in fifth, and series leader Australian Emma Moffatt.
She said: “It’s been quite different for me this year with this series because I had a long break last year [after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games] and never really got into it until the second half of the season.
“It’s nice not to have all the attention on me this time around, it lets me get about my training and I’ve been improving steadily throughout the season so I hope the final will be my best race of the year.
“I’m feeling pretty good and I’ve trained really well since London [where she finished third] and on the day you’ve got to give it your best, but I hope I’ve improved a bit since London”.
Cambridge’s Will Clarke, whose training base is in Loughborough, is currently sitting in 15th place and is also keen on finishing the season on a high personal note. “I had a reasonable winter and I think this race will be my best for the year. I like the course. It’s fast and flat and I’m looking forward to the weekend,” he said.
Great Britain’s other contestants in the men’s event include Tim Don, the Londoner who is currently ranked no.18, and Olly Freeman at no.40.
The Great Britain women’s entry includes Liz Blatchford at no.21 who showed well in the penultimate Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championships Series leg in Yokohama ten days ago as well as Jodie Swallow, ranked 39th and Kerry Lang, ranked no.50.
Pics: Delly Carr
British Triathlon Performance Director Heather Williams said all is well in the camp. “I can honestly say we have a full set of fit athletes,” she said.