Alistair Brownlee isolates himself after racing home following Olympics call-off

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Never has Yorkshire felt more like home sweet home for double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee.

Britain’s star triathlete was 5,000 miles away at a training camp on Monday when foreign secretary Dominic Raab instructed UK travellers overseas to “come home now while you still can”.

Brownlee, in the United States with brother Jonny, was inside the Olympic bubble, chasing his dream in water and on land as he had before winning gold in London and Rio.

With Olympic chiefs insisting no decision on the Games would be taken for another month, the pair ploughed on.

An office worker wearing a mask walks past emblem of 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

Even private concerns that he had come a little too close for comfort to a coronavirus hotspot when competing in Spain earlier this month, could not derail him.

Such is the total dedication of the Olympic athlete and it explains why Tuesday’s postponement came not a moment too soon for all those aiming to be big in Japan.

Brownlee said: “Jonny and I were in New Mexico training when the call was made.

Jonny Brownlee (L) and Alistair Brownlee of Great Britain pose with their medals before a Rio 2016 Victory Parade for the British Olympic and Paralympic teams on October 17, 2016 in Manchester, England.
Brownlee (right) and brother Jonny pose with their Rio 2016 Olympic medals

“When we heard it was off, coupled with the Foreign Office advice to get home quick, we scrambled. It wasn’t easy to get a flight and we started to stress a bit.

“Fortunately we made it back but had they not been postponed when they were we would have been stuck there.

“Another month,” he added, “would have made things a hell of a lot worse.

Twitter page of Alistair Brownlee
Brownlee arrives back at Heathrow after winning Rio Olympic gold

Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee wave to the crowds wearing their medals during a parade celebrating Britain's Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroes
The Brownlee boys wave to crowds during a parade celebrating Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes

“Inevitably people would be taking risks with their health to train and increasing the likelihood of being exposed to the virus.

“In fairness though to the IOC the situation is changing so fast. What is going on today seemed inconceivable two weeks ago.”

Out of harm’s way, the 31-year old has hunkered down at home and begun a period of isolation to make absolutely sure he has not brought anything unwanted back with him.

Time to reset: Olympics has been put back a year

“This pandemic is obviously so much bigger and more serious than sport,” he added.

“The Olympics is a massive event but this is a time not to focus on sport too much, to take the foot off the gas and do what’s best for everyone by making sure you don’t spread the virus.

“We can talk all day about whether or not an Olympics in three months would have spread it more or not. Ultimately, we don’t know.

Moment of glory: Brownlee crosses finish line to win London 2012 Olympic triathlon

“But when so many people are losing their lives, or are very close to losing their lives, it’s the principle isn’t it.

“We have to make a priority of saving lives. Every resource that can possibly fight this virus must be used to do that.”

Brownlee admits that competing in the Umbria Duathlon on the first weekend of this month left him “obviously worried” given how the crisis has since escalated.

“I haven’t shown any symptoms so in terms of actually contracting it I think I’m fairly safe,” he said. “But after travelling back I’m going to make an effort to be as isolated as I can for a while just to make sure I don’t develop any.”

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