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Two-time Olympic champion Brownlee to bid for third gold

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London (AFP)

Alistair Brownlee is to target a third successive triathlon Olympic title in Tokyo later this year hoping to remain injury-free and able to play on his rivals' fear factor.

Brownlee will be 32 by the time the event takes place and has been competing in Iron Man competitions, but he told the BBC he could not resist the lure of standing on the top of the podium at the quadrennial global sporting showpiece for a third time.

It represents quite a U-turn by him as a year ago he said he would be absent from Tokyo.

His last World Series race over the Olympic distance of 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run ended with him trailing home in 44th place.

However, injury-free of late, the winner of 37 of his 70 International Triathlon Union races is positive about his chances.

"In a really strange way, I'm in a better position now than I was before the last three Olympics," Brownlee said.

"In 2008 I didn't think I'd be going. In 2012 at this stage I'd torn my achilles.

"In 2016 I'd had an operation on my ankle; there were issues with my hamstring. This time I've got nothing wrong with me at all."

However, Brownlee is also hoping that his return to the event will intimidate his rivals.

"Fear? Yeah. Maybe. That's up to them, isn't it?" he said.

"Reputation? I guess. On one hand it's the old 'pressure is a privilege' thing.

"You're better having the aura than not having the aura.

"But it comes with expectation."

The older Brownlee is philosophical about how his younger brother Jonny will take the news, having perhaps seen his chances lessen of securing a gold after bronze in London and silver in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Alistair Brownlee, however, is not one for sentiment when it comes to racing.

Jonny said to him when they were both clear of the rest of the field in Rio they could ease up but Alistair, sensing his sibling was struggling, pressed the accelerator and sped away.

He is unrepentant and has no hesitation when asked would he repeat that in Tokyo.

"No! I'd still be absolutely ruthless," he laughs.

"I think Jonny is happy that I'll be racing, although he'd probably never say it.

"He's aware that I was committed to helping him, so I'd be doing that sort of training to help him get there. So that's not changed that much."

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