LONDON -- Oh, brother.
Britain had been torn in a cheerful way, trying to figure out who would win the Olympic men’s triathlon.
Alistair Brownlee is the world’s top-ranked triathlete at age 24 and immensely popular here, and his younger brother Jonathan is ranked No. 2 in the world with legions of fans as well.
Still dazzled by three gold medals in one night at Olympic Stadium last weekend, British fans were treated to another memorable event when Alistair won Tuesday’s triathlon.
He crossed the finish line at Hyde Park amid scores of screaming British fans, his pace 11 seconds ahead of Spain’s Javier Gomez. Jonathan Brownlee, 22, was third, 20 seconds behind Gomez.
There could have been a longer distance from first to second, but Alistair grabbed a British flag and draped it over his back down the stretch. He slowly walked the last few steps, soaking up the scene with a huge grin, and finished with a time of 1:46:25.
“The pressure was stacked up,” Alistair said. “I woke up this morning, I was really nervous. I was like a kid at Christmas, looking forward to the race.
“To get two of us brothers, two British brothers, on the podium: You could not ask for more.”
Alistair’s effort brought a 19th gold medal for Britain, which recovered after a slow competitive Olympic start to move comfortably into third in the medal count behind China and the U.S.
Hunter Kemper of the U.S. finished 14th with a time of 1:48:46 on a course with a 1,500-meter swim, 43-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run.
“The best guys won today,” said Kemper, 36. “I’m definitely more of the diesel versus the Formula One racetrack. I mean, Alistair is 24 years old. It’s quick. It feels like you’re sprinting the whole 10K for 30 minutes. To me, it felt like I was plodding along because I was running so slow.”
The other U.S. competitor, Manuel Huerta, was 51st out of 54 finishers, completing the course in 1:53:39. He was grabbing his left side afterward and did not speak with reporters.
Alistair sustained a small tear in his left Achilles’ tendon back in February, but, as he once famously said, “I don’t believe in having a rest day.”
The Brownlees and Gomez were alone a few minutes after finishing the bike portion and starting the run, but Jonathan dropped back after the midpoint of the run, leaving his older brother and Gomez.
Alistair didn’t have company for long from there, effortlessly creating space from Gomez.
The gold medal was his. The younger brother wasn’t far behind, either.