Alistair Brownlee says critics “don’t understand” heat exhaustion after WTS Cozumel heroics
After footage appeared to show Alistair Brownlee shouting at Richard Murray shortly after getting brother Jonny over the finish line at WTS Cozumel, he revealed to 220 Triathlon that he simply said: “I would have done the same for you” – rubbishing the theory that Alistair was simply prioritising his brother’s chances of winning the World Triathlon Series by getting him to the line quicker.
Speaking at the Brownlee Triathlon in Leeds, an event the brothers have been involved in since its inception four years ago, Alistair was critical of those saying Jonny would have been tended to quicker had he left him with a steward:
“Anyone who’s saying it was potentially dangerous doesn’t understand the medical implications of heat exhaustion, frankly they’re wrong.
“People who are suffering with heat exhaustion need medical attention as quickly as possible, and no one in the crowd or any of the stewards could have got him to the finish line as quickly as I could, where the medics were. I’ll be honest when I saw the blue carpet it crossed my mind that I was going to get Jonny over the line too and he’d be in with a shout for the world title, but the priority was getting him medical help.”
Although the stand-alone footage of Alistair hauling Jonny to the finish has taken on a life of its own in the mainstream media, both brothers admitted that although the exposure for triathlon was positive, on a personal level it wasn’t what they wanted to be known for, with Alistair calling it “embarrassing” numerous times:
“It’s a bit embarrassing really, you put all this work in only to get more famous for being the brother that helped the other one over the line! If Jonny had have got the world title that would have been a successful season between us, job done. While we were in Mexico we were away from all the media, and it’s been a bit of a strange week since.
“The two big plusses that have come out of all this is the exposure triathlon has got, reaching an audience it usually wouldn’t and if it’s inspired people to take up the sport there’s no harm in that at all; and being able to talk about the danger of heat exhaustion and how seriously that needs to be taken is a big positive.”
Jonny said work began immediately after he left intensive care to establish what happened:
“For me I lost the World Championships, which was disappointing and obviously you want to correct what went wrong. I was on the phone to the British Triathlon doctor the next day, and I’ll be getting some heat testing done over the next couple of months to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Jonny said that world champion Mario Mola’s comments about Alistair possibly knocking off his goggles early in the swim were likely misinterpreted in the days after the race, although Alistair said the Spaniard did initially suggest foul play but apologised “five minutes afterwards following a frank discussion”.
Alistair said: “I just said what happens in the swim happens, 200m in there’s no way I’m going to have time to think about knocking someone’s goggles off, that’s ridiculous. We spoke after the race and cleared this up, Mario apologised and we’ve been in touch through email since as well.
“At the line I said to Richard (Murray) that I would have done the same for him, I got heat exhaustion (in a World Series race) six years ago and it’s not a good position to be in, you need to get medical help straight away.”