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Triathlete Jonny Brownlee to take on ‘new challenges’ after Tokyo Olympics

Jonny Brownlee comes to Leeds after a win over the sprint distance in Sardinia last week
Dates: 5-6 June Venue: Roundhay Park, Leeds
Coverage: Para Series live on BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer & BBC Sport website & app (Sat: 1530-1730), Championship series on BBC Two (Sun: 1300-1800)

Two-time Olympic triathlon medallist Jonny Brownlee has told BBC Sport that the Tokyo Games later this summer will be his last.

Brownlee, who has already been selected for the Games, will be in action on home soil in Sunday’s World Triathlon Series event in Leeds.

But he now wants to move up in distance to half-Ironman and Ironman.

“I’ve absolutely loved it but after Tokyo I’ll be ready for a new challenge,” said the 31-year-old.

“I know it is only three years to Paris, but I’ve been doing the same thing for a long time – the same races in the same places – and although the Olympics has been amazing, I’m ready for a change and if anything, the long distance will suit me more.”

Jonny is keen to be joined by older brother and two-time Olympic champion Alistair on the start line at the Odaiba Marine Park on 25 August. But current rankings mean Britain can only take two male athletes, with the race to accompany Jonny far from certain.

As well as Alistair, the Leeds race, which will take place around Roundhay Park over the Olympic distance (1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run) will also give competitors such as Alex Yee and Tom Bishop a chance to stake their claims and also try to give GB a third qualification slot.

Alistair – the 33-year-old London and Rio gold medallist – has an ankle injury which meant he missed out on the recent World Series race in Yokohama, and he chose not to take part in the run section of the World Cup race in Sardinia last weekend because of it.

But his younger brother, who was a disappointing 23rd in Yokohama, knows his presence will be an advantage to him.

“Leeds will be a tough race for him because he wants to qualify,” he said. “I know he will be nervous but I will be there to support him and hopefully help him.

“He has helped me many times before but I can race the way I want to race and hopefully it will help him.

“From a selfish point of view, I really want Alistair to be there in Tokyo. I believe if I want to win a medal, he will help that.

“Tokyo is a hard course and it will be hot and the race will be about someone who can hit that run as fresh and ready as possible and can pace it well.

“To have him there making the swim and bike, and maybe breaking up the field to make it as easy as possible for me, will help my chances.

“At some point, I need to show good form in these Olympic-distance races and if I want to win a medal in Tokyo, Leeds would be a good time to start.”

US pair set for battle in women’s race

In the women’s race, American pair Katie Zaferes and Taylor Spivey, who are competing for the one remaining spot on their team for Tokyo, will both be hoping to impress selectors.

Zafares, the 2019 world champion, finished down the field in Yokohama after being caught up in a crash while Spivey was fourth, as she was in her previous Series race in Hamburg.

Bermuda’s two-time world champion Flora Duffy is on the start list but has been struggling with injury and has not competed since the World Cup event in Arzachena last year.

There will be a strong British contingent in the race with Jess Learmonth, who has already been selected for Tokyo, joining former world champion Non Stanford, Beth Potter and Lucy Charles-Barclay.

However, Vicky Holland and Georgia Taylor-Brown, who are both Tokyo-bound, will be missing. Holland withdrew with a calf problem while Taylor-Brown has opted out because of illness. Both are expected to be fully fit for the Games.

Steadman takes on Cashmore

Leeds will be hosting a Para Series event for the first time, with Paralympic qualification points still up for grabs. The battle between Rio silver medallist Lauren Steadman and swimmer-turned-triathlete Claire Cashmore in the PT5 event is set to be one of the highlights.

The British pair, former swimming team-mates, have been rivals for the past couple of years, with Cashmore winning the 2019 Grand Final in Lausanne and Steadman getting her revenge at the European Championships two weeks later.

Paralympic champion Grace Norman and France’s Gwladys Lemoussu will be hoping to spoil the British party.

Dutch pair Jetze Plat and Geert Schipper will be the ones to beat in the men’s PTWC event, for wheelchair users, while in the women’s visually-impaired event, Spain’s world champion Susana Rodriguez will face a tough challenge from British pair Alison Peasgood and Melissa Reid.

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