Great Britain’s 21 year old youngster, Alistair Brownlee, started his 2009 Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series campaign in style as he ran away from Spain’s 2008 World Champion, Javier Gomez, to cross the line in 1:51:27 to win in Madrid, Spain.
Dmitry Polyansky from Russia overtook New Zealand’s Bevan Docherty to move into first on the Dextro Energy Triathlon – ITU World Championship Series Rankings with 1186pts.
Brownlee looked sprightly from the start, placing highly in the 1500m swim before repeatedly attacking during the hilly 40km cycle as he helped to establish a small lead group of just eleven athletes that included home favourite Gomez and the experienced Courtney Atkinson from Australia.
However it was on the run where the Brit impressed as he obliterated the opposition. After just 2.5km he had a 30 second lead and continued to pull away to register his first ITU world series victory by 48 seconds. Despite not winning a series race before, Brownlee has had notable success before, winning the world junior championships in 2006 and world under 23 championships in 2008.
Brownlee claimed gold (2006; age 18)) and silver (2007; age 19) at the World Junior Championships, before winning U23 Worlds in 2008 (age 20). He reached the podium twice in his first five World Cup Starts, and finished 12th at the Beijing Olympics, after leading early sections of the run. He's a front pack swimmer, a strong rider, and he ran 29:48 and 29:35 for 10k this spring (age 21).
Now for the interesting part. There are several juniors in the country, and in Ontario, who are the same speed or faster (in swim and run), than Brownlee at the same age. That's not a guarantee of future success, Brownlee is clearly a very special athlete who has progressed at a remarkable rate. But those swim and run performances do put several of our young athletes in the right ballpark. In my two years working with OAT, I've been very impressed by the willingness of the juniors to set high goals, meet (and exceed) standards, and look for new opportunities to challenge themselves. As we continue to build a high performance culture, we'll need to continually set our expectations higher, and work harder. There is no reason why a Canadian athlete (or athletes) can't 'destroy' a world class field in the future. And there's no reason why that athlete (or athletes) can't come from Ontario. Canadians have done it before, and we'll do it again.
So who's looking to raise the bar a little higher, and work a little harder?