SPORTS

No energy for victory lap: Britain's triathletes sick, tired after winning at Olympics

08/07/2012 03:09 EDT | Updated 10/07/2012 05:12 EDT
LONDON - It's standard: Athletes who win medals at the Olympics cry, they run victory laps, kiss the ground, speak of being proud and appear energized by their triumph.

Not the Brownlee brothers. They were sick and tired after claiming gold and bronze in triathlon.

"I just wanted to finish it and sit down," said Alistair Brownlee after crossing the finishing line of the grueling 54.5 kilometre (34-mile) swimming, cycling and running race through Hyde Park on Tuesday. He won the race and his younger brother, Jonathan, came third after overcoming a 15-second penalty.

"I crossed the line and I felt awful," Jonathan Brownlee said. It got worse and worse. Then I got sick."

The younger Brownlee collapsed 10 minutes after the finish, overheating, and had to be given ice packs and glucose by medical staff.

It's all part of triathlon, the brothers said. It's a hard sport and by the time the athletes are done with three disciplines, there is no energy left to stand up, much less run around to please the crowd.

"I did not have too much time to enjoy it," Alistair said. "I was very proud and happy, but also anxious to get it over with."

So he celebrated his gold before actually finishing the race at the London Games. Grabbing a British flag from a fan, he slowed to a jog to salute his home crowd, and then walked across the finish line.

"I did not really know what was going on. I was losing it a bit," Alistair Brownlee said. "Triathlon is a tough sport and you just want to get to the finish at that point."

The older Brownlee is the reigning world and European champion. His brother took sliver in the race at the world champions two years ago.

They normally train together, but they worked particularly close during preparations for the Olympics in their homeland, aiming to win a medal each.

"It was no secret that we trained to get both of us to the podium," Alistair said after he claimed first Olympic gold in the sport for Britain.

"And that's not an easy thing to do considering all the things that can go wrong with one of you. We are two, and that's even worse."

And things did go wrong.

Jonathan earned a 15-second time penalty late in the run for hopping on his bike too soon after the swim.

"I did not really realize I did anything wrong," Jonathan said. He thought it was his brother who had been penalized.

"I saw the board and I thought, 'Alistair got a penalty. What an idiot.' Then I realized, oh me, I've got it. I have a penalty now. That's a shame. But I will have to run faster," he said.

Although it was the longest 15 seconds of his life, he did not mind the break.

"It's a tough race. I was actually pleased to stop for a few seconds," Jonathan said.

His brother, who had pulled ahead of silver medallist Javier Gomez of Spain by then, said the penalty system shouldn't even exist.

"Penalties are a disgrace in triathlon," Alister said. "They are damaging to the sport. They bring judgmental decisions. It should be simple: you start, you finish. The first to cross the line, wins."

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