Jonny Brownlee: Winning gold made the hard graft worth the pain

After winning gold in Tokyo, I have allowed myself to enjoy a bit more of a break than I usually would.

Typical of me, though, I got back from Spain and had a 400metre swim time-trial to do the next morning.

I know as I get older it is all about enjoying the special moments because if you’re not careful, they pass you by. Nothing is forever. When you’re younger you always think about the next thing, the next thing.

But triathlon is what I love and I must admit I was happy to be back into training when I got returned. It’s so strange not having a routine, even for a few days, when you’re an athlete.

During the run in the relay in Japan, I was thinking: ‘These are your last two kilometres at an Olympics, give it everything’ and I felt absolutely brilliant.

I looked at the result sheet and went ‘wow’. The relay distance really shouldn’t come so easy to me but afterwards I was definitely thinking ‘could I have done better than fifth in the individual race’ and ‘what about Paris 2024?’.

Going into the relay, I needed that feeling of it being my last Olympics to get me in the right frame of mind but maybe I’m better than I think I am.

It’s hard to leave the Olympics not enthused about the whole thing, even at a Games that was as unique as this one. I realised how much I love about the Olympic Games when we were in Tokyo.

It may have been a very different Games but it is always amazing to be part of Team GB, even if this time I really did miss out on the whole Olympic experience. It was fly in, compete, fly out.

My plan is to do a year of different stuff in terms of racing — there are Super League triathlons in London, Munich, Jersey and Malibu this year and I want to do some 70.3 Ironman, maybe combined with Olympic-distance events and race for the real love of it.

Paris then obviously enters your mind and it is only three years’ away, although a Games is always a project of a couple of years.

It was definitely strange being at an Olympics without my brother competing. But Alistair was around and I saw him after both races. After the individual, I was lying on the ground being sick when he leaned over a fence to chat to me.

After the relay, he found me and said: ‘That was brilliant, the best second leg you could possibly have done’ and followed up with a text that read: ‘You’ve had a brilliant Olympic career but my golds count for more!’ That was kind and meant a lot.

Now I have to think about if Paris 2024 is something I seriously want to consider.

Full set of Games medals? I’ve completed it!

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So inadvertently I seem to have picked up a catchphrase.

I saw something on social media which said after my silver and bronze at the two previous Games, gold would mean I had completed the set.

That stuck with me and when we won relay gold, I asked my team-mate Jess Learmonth whether she thought it would sound arrogant if I said it in an interview.

She said it was a fun line so I said it and within minutes there were memes of it on social media — of course!

Although saying ‘completed it’ was obviously a joke, I was left with that feeling of completing the full set of triathlon medals.

I used to say I would never touch Alistair’s golds because I believed then I would never win one myself. Now I can reflect on a job well done. Olympics? Completed it!

Jonny Brownlee is fuelled by Aldi. As the Official Supermarket Partner to Team GB, Aldi continues to power athletes’ training by providing access to fresh produce, supporting great British talent and great British suppliers

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