Alumni Olympic Champions

Triathletes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee confirmed their status as the sport’s stars on the roads of Rio yesterday, claiming gold and silver in a highly convincing Olympic win.

The brothers, who are both University of Leeds graduates and train regularly at The Edge and Sports Park Weetwood, performed strongly in the swim and the cycle sections of the race, before dominating the run and pulling away from the pack to complete the last two laps almost alone.

Alistair walked over the line in 1.45.01 while younger brother Jonny finished in 1.45.07. Bronze medallist, South African Henri Schoeman, crossed the line 40 seconds later.

The third member of the TeamGB squad was Gordon Benson, who graduated from the University this summer with a BSc in Nutrition and was performing in his first Olympics.

Congratulating the brothers on their success, Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “There could not be a better result for the Brownlees or for our city than seeing a Leeds gold and silver result in the triathlon.

“The University has played a significant role in their development and training since they studied with us, and I am delighted for both of them.

“I’d also like to pay tribute to Gordon Benson, who reached Olympic standard while studying for a demanding degree. He’s played an important role in helping the Brownlees achieve the success they have and deserves credit.”

Alistair Brownlee completed his Sport Science and Physiology degree at the University of Leeds in 2009 and studied alongside his elite level training at the Leeds Triathlon Centre.

Jonny Brownlee completed his degree in History at the University in 2012, and the same year won the International Triathlon Union world title. He is also a member of British Triathlon Squad training at the Leeds Triathlon Centre.

Both brothers along with Gordon Benson received support balancing their studies alongside training and competing internationally from our Sport Scholarship Programme whilst studying here at Leeds.

During the race itself, the University’s expertise in sports was called upon several times by the media. Dr Mark Hetherington from the Faculty of Biological Sciences explained to Sky News how the on-campus Environment Chamber helps triathletes acclimatise to weather conditions similar to those in Rio.

From January the medal winning athletes will be based at the first centre in the world dedicated to elite level triathlon training at Sports Park Weetwood. The University is working with a number of partners to renovate the existing pavilion and create a closed loop cycle track with transition area, the elite athletes from the Leeds Triathlon Centre, including Alistair, Jonny and Gordon will be based at the new facility. Funding from the University, Sport England via UK Sport and British Cycling is making the project possible.

“We will have the world’s first centre bringing together all three triathlon disciplines, which combined with the great coaches and clubs we have in Leeds will ensure we can sustain the city’s success in the sport into the future.” Said Stewart Ross, Director of Commercial and Campus Support Services at The University of Leeds.

Find out more about the new centre here.