November 24, 2020

Unbreakable: Jonny Brownlee relishing ‘incredible’ Daytona showdown

Jonny Brownlee is relishing the “incredible” prospect of lining up for the PTO 2020 Championship at CHALLENGEDAYTONA® on December 6.

The 30-year-old British superstar will be among a galaxy of more than 100 world stars who will do battle for a record-breaking $1,150,000 purse over a 100km course at the iconic Florida venue.

The mega event will see a year ravaged by COVID-19 end on the highest notes with an epic battle playing out in front of a global audience, elevating triathlon to new levels. Jonny, for one, cannot wait.

“2020 has been a very strange year for everyone. It is the first time I can remember in my career that I have not had an obvious goal in the short-term coming up.

“What I really wanted to do this year is have a real good challenge. The Daytona race offers that challenge for me.

“The depth of the field is incredible; it’s probably the strongest non-drafting race that there has ever been.”

Alistair ‘an unbelievable athlete’

Jonny will take his place alongside older brother Alistair on the start line next month, and the overwhelming respect he has for his sibling’s elite ability is clear.

“Alistair is an unbelievable athlete. If you want to beat Alistair, you have got to be fitter than him because he is going to suffer more than you and if I could beat him in Daytona, it would be absolutely incredible.”

Jonny’s spectacular career CV already includes Olympic bronze and silver medals, seven ITU World Championship gold medals from under-23 to elite and a Commonwealth Games success in the 2014 mixed team relay.

Unbreakable: Jonny Brownlee relishing ‘incredible’ Daytona showdown

Making Mexico history

Despite that, many sports fans still remember him for the moment when he was carried over the line by Alistair after collapsing during the latter stages of the 2016 World Triathlon Series final in Mexico.
It is an iconic sporting memory, one which epitomises the spirit of triathlon, of sport, and of family. It is though something which Jonny would rather put behind him.

“Most people probably see me as a person who got carried across the finish line by my older brother.
“I’d like to be seen as someone who has achieved a lot in sport, someone who never gives up, as someone who when I’m on my best form that I am very difficult to beat.”

Embracing the pain

All of the triumphs and all of the medals are the glorious result of the hard work Jonny has put in during his career. They have come at a cost though, notably the femoral stress fracture he suffered in 2015. It was just another reminder of the lurking adversary athletes fear most – injury.

Unbreakable: Jonny Brownlee relishing ‘incredible’ Daytona showdown

“All endurance athletes, to some extent, are very good at trying to come across as unbreakable. We don’t like showing weaknesses in races or in training.

“In races when you’re against your opposition, you want to make it look easy, you want to make it look like you are not suffering, and in training the same. You don’t really want to show that kind of weakness.

“So, maybe we do take that into our day-to-day life, of hiding things because we are kind of taught not to do that. As athletes, you are taught to basically lie to your body.

“You tell yourself that you can go faster, and you can keep on going. You tell yourself that it is going to hurt and sometimes I really, really embrace and enjoy that suffering.”

More suffering awaits in Florida next month, but Jonny is ready yet again to go through the pain barrier.

You can watch the Brownlee brothers, and more than 100 other world stars, battle it out in the PTO 2020 Championship on December 6. It promises to be an unmissable triathlon feast in front of a global audience, and the countdown is now well and truly on.

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