Alistair Brownlee "50-50" to bid for triathlon hat-trick at Tokyo 2020

Double Olympic champion to decide within weeks whether to aim for third gold medal, or make permanent switch to Ironman distance.

Alistair Brownlee is still thinking about whether to defending his Olympic triathlon title at Tokyo 2020.

Ahead of sunday's World Triathlon Series event on home soil in Leeds, the Briton told Press Association Sport he would love to go to Japan but says, "I only want to be there if I feel I can be competitive."

In 2019, he has been more than "competitive".

After an injury-ravaged couple of years, the gold medallist from London 2012 and Rio 2016 won on his seasonal debut at the Triathlon World Cup in Cagliari in May.

Two weeks later, he claimed his fourth European title in the Dutch town of Weert.

For most people, those victories would remove all doubt surrounding participation at Tokyo.

Alistair Brownlee is clearly not most people, and he still has reservations going into the Leeds race, where brother Jonathan, twice an Olympic medallist, is also due to compete.

"Let’s see how it goes this weekend, because obviously that’s the first really top-flight race I’ll have done. Then we’ll take it from there." - Alistair Brownlee speaking to Press Association Sport

Alistair Brownlee taking a break from olympic distance to train for ironman

Alistair Brownlee taking a break from olympic distance to train for ironman

Trials and tribulations

After winning his second Olympic title in Rio, Brownlee announced his intention to step up in distance with a view to one day contesting the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

The Yorkshireman won on his debut in half-Ironman, also known as Ironman 70.3, at the North American Championships in May 2017 but ended his season in August to undergo hip reattachment surgery.

He suffered more injuries on his return, but finished fourth in last August's European Championships in Glasgow after what he described as "an awful year".

A month later, he chased home 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa.

2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship podium (L-R): Runner-up Alistair Brownlee, winner Jan Frodeno, third-placed Javier Gomez Noya
2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship podium (L-R): Runner-up Alistair Brownlee, winner Jan Frodeno, third-placed Javier Gomez Noya2018 Ironman 70.3 World Championship podium (L-R): Runner-up Alistair Brownlee, winner Jan Frodeno, third-placed Javier Gomez Noya

Frodeno's example is certainly one for the Englishman to follow.

The German went up in distance after taking sixth at London 2012, behind Brownlee, before going on to take Ironman world titles in 2015 and 2016.

Brownlee has had a far better 2019, reaping the benefits of being able to train free of injury in the off-season.

Decision day approaches

Having missed Leeds 12 months ago, the 31-year-old is hoping to regain the title he won in 2016 and 2017.

Victory would surely see him opt to defend his Olympic title, but he is still scheduled to take part in his first full Ironman in Cork, Ireland in two weeks' time.

He told The Sun newspaper, "I’ll have a sit-down after Leeds and decide what the next eight weeks look like. I won’t be at the Olympics to make up the numbers. I want to be there because I believe I can win."

Brownlee also admitted that his recent successes have made him far more likely to head to Tokyo.

"At the moment, I’m still 50-50. But to put that into context, I was probably 20-80 the wrong way around only a month or six weeks ago. It has swung." - Alistair Brownlee speaking to The Sun

Brownlee brothers secure one-two in Rio triathlon

Brownlee brothers secure one-two in Rio triathlon

Enjoyed this story? Share it with your friends!