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Alistair Brownlee puts Olympics ahead of world series

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Alistair Brownlee wins 2010 grand final in sprint finish

By Nick Hope
BBC Olympic Sports Reporter

Alistair Brownlee is set to pass up on the chance to win the 2011 world title as he aims to secure an Olympic spot.

The 23-year-old from Leeds won the world title in 2009 but injury hit his bid to repeat the feat this year.

"I'd like to race in the world series, but the focus is on getting a 2012 place, so I'll select events around that," Brownlee told BBC Sport.

His key qualifying races in 2011 are in London in August and the world series grand final in Beijing in September.

Great Britain are guaranteed two host-nation places in the men's triathlon event at the London Olympics, but Brownlee is hoping to secure his place outright and qualify before the end of next year.

I see London and Beijing as my two main races of next year and I'll make a decision on the other events based on how I come through the winter training

Alistair Brownlee

"2011 is all about London. Whilst I would like to compete in the whole of the world series and reclaim the title, I have to think about getting in the right shape and condition for the events which carry the most points," said Brownlee.

The qualification period runs from 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2012 with athletes selecting their 14 best results from this period.

Around 28 events - including World Cup series events and continental championships - have points on offer but they are on a sliding scale.

The two season-ending World Championships Series grand finals and the Olympic test event in London next year award 1,000 points to each winner, while the European Championship has a maximum of 400 available.

"Triathlon is tough on the body and you want to enter an event in the best condition you can," said Brownlee, who was speaking at the opening of a special hydra-therapy pool for disabled children in Halifax.

How 2012 qualification works:
Qualification period runs from 1 June 2010 to 31 May 2012
Athletes select their best 14 results from this period
Four levels of qualification events, with different points on offer depending on the quality of the competition
Two World Championship Series grand finals (one in 2010 and one in 2011) and the Olympic test event in London in 2011 offer 1,000 points for the winner
800 points are available to the winner of each level two World Championship series event (there are four in 2010 and six in 2011)
500 points for World Cup event winners
400 points for winners of continental championships
To collect point in any of the races, athletes must finish in the top 50 and within 5% of the winner's time in the men's race and 8% in the women's
Points decrease on a sliding scare of 7.5%, e.g. winner of grand final receives 1000 points, second scores 925, third 855.62 and so on

"If I had to travel to places like Korea then that would make things difficult as it's not easy to prepare for those races whilst training in the conditions we have in Leeds.

"Nothing is set in stone, but I see London and Beijing as my two main races of next year and I'll make a decision on the other events based on how I come through the winter training."

Brownlee suffered a stress-fracture to his leg after slipping during training in February, which saw him ruled out of the first two world series events in Sydney and Seoul.

It meant he could not defend the world title he won in 2009 as competition rules at the time required athletes to compete in at least one of the two non-European events in order to win the series overall.

Brownlee bounced-back from his lay-off with a surprise victory in Madrid and he went on to win the European Championship in July. But he caused concern after collapsing over the line in Hyde Park later that month, with his younger brother Jonathan going on to take second place.

Contrasting fortunes for Brownlee brothers at Hyde Park Triathlon

The elder Brownlee was back to his best, though, at the season-ending grand final in Budapest, Hungary.

"It's been a pretty tough year, but to still come away as a European champion and having won two world tour events means it hasn't been a complete disaster," Alistair Brownlee insisted

"The injury came as a result of a couple of things: the weather and perhaps pushing too hard at times.

OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION DATES IN 2011:
World Championship Series event, Sydney, Australia, 9-10 March 800 points available
World Cup event, Monterrey, Mexico, 8 May 500 points
World Championship Series, Yokohama, Japan, 14-15 May 800 points
World Championship Series, Madrid, 4-5 June 800 points
World Championship Series, Kitzbuhel, Austria, 18-19 June 800 points
European Championships, Pontevedra, Spain, 25-26 June 400 points
World Cup, Edmonton, Canada, 10 July 500 points
World Championship Series, Hamburg, Germany, 16-17 July 800 points
World Championship Series, London (Olympic test event), 6-7 August 1,000 points
World Cup, Tiszaujvaros, Hungary, 14 August 500 points
World Championship Series grand final, Beijing, China, 10-11 September 1000 points
World Cup, Huatulco, Mexico, 9 October 500 points
World Cup, Tongyeong, Korea, 15 October 500 points
World Cup, Guatape, Columbia, 6 November 500 points
2012 World Championship Series and World Cup dates TBC

"I've learnt from the experience, though, and really want to focus on having a strong winter training period and head into 2011 fully fit.

The two brothers train together, with a typical, punishing weekly regime seeing them swim 20km, run 120km and cycle and 240km.

Jonathan, world under-23 champion in 2010 , now believes it is time to step up to competing full-time in senior events from next season.

"It'll be a tough change because in the junior events you're running half the distances, you swim 750m, cycle 20k and run 5k - I'll now be doing twice that," he said.

"It takes time to build up to that level, but London was a great event for me and I'm confident of a good season."

Comparisons between the brothers are inevitable but 20-year-old Jonathan, who was recently named British Triathlon's 2010 Olympic Athlete of the Year , wants to focus on his own development.

"I don't like to compare myself to my brother, although he's an incredible athlete who I can learn from. Alistair trains hard, perhaps too hard sometimes and that's led to injuries.

606: DEBATE

"I think that's one of the things I can take from him, obviously how to push myself, but also when to realise I need to stop."

The brothers will spend much of the winter training at home in Yorkshire, but will be will gain brief respite from the wintery conditions with a trip to an elite sports training venue in Lanzarote.

"It'll be great for us to get away for a while. It's not fun when you have to go out for a 20k run or even longer cycle in zero degrees," said Jonathan.

Jonathan Brownlee crowned U23 world champion

"The warmer climate helps you train that little bit harder because you know the recovery will be quicker and you're less likely to pick-up injuries."

The brothers are likely to miss the 2011 World Championship Series opener in Sydney in March, with the event in Madrid in June more likely to see their season debuts.



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see also
Tour of Alistair Brownlee's house
10 Sep 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Alistair Brownlee's nightmare season
15 Sep 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
The triathlon uncovered
15 Mar 06 |  Triathlon
Get involved in triathlon
14 Oct 05 |  Triathlon


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