Alistair Brownlee is facing a race against time to defend his Olympic triathlon title in Tokyo after being left out of the initial squad for the event.
The 32-year-old, who won gold in both London and Rio, is yet to fulfil British Triathlon’s strict selection criteria and has until around June next year to make his case.
Brownlee’s brother Jonny, along with Vicky Holland, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth, have been confirmed in the squad by the British Olympic Association.
GB Triathlon performance director Mike Cavendish said: “Alistair is still very much in contention – we’ve not filled all our slots yet and hopefully we will have a pretty full series of racing next year.
“He, alongside a number of other male athletes, will be looking to earn one of the one or two remaining slots.
“A fully fit and firing Alistair Brownlee will undoubtedly be in contention for filling one of those slots once we get to June next year.”
Despite flirting with Ironman events and even a potential switch to the 10,000 metres or marathon, the PA news agency understands Brownlee is committed to defending his Olympic title.
However, the impact of coronavirus on the global triathlon schedule makes his path to Tokyo far from clear, as do the current world rankings which could restrict the GB men’s team to just two slots.
That would place the older Brownlee on a direct collision course with his up-and-coming domestic rival Alex Yee, a 22-year-old who won a silver medal at last year’s World Triathlon Series race in Abu Dhabi.
Jonny Brownlee, who was pipped into the silver medal position by his brother in Rio, said he believed having his brother on the start-line in Tokyo would serve to boost his own chances of success.
“I’ve been lucky enough to race my two previous Olympics with Alistair and having him on the team will hopefully improve my chances of winning a medal,” said Brownlee.
“I would not be going to Tokyo if I did not genuinely believe, as I did on the start-line in both Rio and London, that I can beat him.
“For me, the certainty that I am in the team is of maximum value because in a time of uncertainty I can now train as if it is going to happen.”