University’s lasting tribute to Olympic-winning Brownlees

Brownlee brothers sat on machinery with building in background

A new £5m University of Leeds sports facility is to be named after its most successful alumni athletes, Olympic heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee.

The Brownlee Centre sits alongside a new 1 mile (1.6km) cycle circuit – one of the longest in the country –  at the University’s Bodington playing fields in north Leeds.

The unique centre, which opens in April, is the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon training base and will provide the first permanent home for the world-beating Leeds Triathlon Centre.

Combining a strength and conditioning training suite, physiotherapy, medical and other support services with one of the longest cycle circuits in the country, this new world-class development will enhance facilities for both cycling and triathlon in the region.

Partnership funding from Sport England, UK Sport, British Cycling and British Triathlon is contributing £1million to the project, with the remaining funding provided by the University.

“This is a real honour,” said Alistair Brownlee, “Having the UK’s first purpose-built triathlon centre in Leeds will ensure that the city continues to be a hub for triathlon. It brings together the facilities top athletes need in one place to create a world class training environment. It is a real boost for both participation and elite sport in the area and will hopefully help the next generation of Leeds athletes on their journey to Olympic success”

Alistair studied Sports Science and Physiology at Leeds and won gold in the triathlon competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

His brother Jonny, who took silver in August, added: “We can’t wait to bring our bikes up here and try it. The track is a great addition to Yorkshire’s cycling facilities and will benefit cyclists and other sportsmen and women of all abilities.
“We’re both really pleased to continue our relationship with the University and I hope that what we’ve achieved can inspire everyone who uses the facilities to try their hardest, whether it’s in competitive sport or in building confidence on two wheels.”

brownlee brothers on tarmac machine

Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands, said: “The University is extremely proud of Alistair and Jonny’s achievements and it is fitting that this unique world-class facility, which will inspire thousands of people to be more active, is to be named after two of our most successful sportsmen.
“Our graduates have dominated top level triathlon and cycling at various events, an achievement which everyone in Leeds can be proud of. Opening The Brownlee Centre and new cycle circuit reinforces our vision of becoming the number one provider of higher education sport and physical activity experience in the UK.”

At last year’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games, all three of the men’s triathlon team were Leeds alumni, with Gordon Benson joining the medal-winning Brownlee brothers. The University is one of the UK’s leading sports institutions, with the Brownlees following in the footsteps of a number of Olympic champions.

Suzanne Glavin, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at the University, said: “We’re really pleased to acknowledge the fantastic sporting success of the Brownlees in such a practical, permanent way.
“We are so proud of Alistair and Jonny and of their continuing relationship with the University – from regular training at our facilities, to the inspiration they provide students, staff and members of the public alike with their achievements.
“We are also pleased to have played a part in their success by providing excellent training facilities and by tailoring their degrees to allow time to prepare and compete.
“The facility they are putting their name to represents a success story for cycling and triathlon in Leeds and beyond. It will ensure athletes of all abilities have some of the best facilities in the UK available close to home.”

The 6 metre-wide circuit will provide a traffic-free environment for cyclists of all ages and abilities – including University students, staff and the wider community – for recreation, coaching and competition.

Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s Director of Cycling, said: “Leeds – and the wider West Yorkshire region – has produced countless successful elite sportspeople over the years, and one of British Cycling’s key aims has always been to ensure that elite success translates into mass participation, and that those inspired by Britain’s finest cyclists have high quality facilities at which to develop their own skills and confidence on a bike.

This new cycle circuit will deliver exactly that for the people of Leeds, and we look forward to seeing locals, regardless of age, ability or previous level of experience on a bike, take advantage of the facility once it is open.”

Four of the six Team GB Rio games triathlon competitors – including the Brownlees’ fellow University of Leeds alumnus Gordon Benson – will be based at the new facilities.
Bodington Playing Fields are no stranger to elite athletes, having hosted numerous national standard cross country competitions. Its running routes are also used weekly by Leeds Triathlon Centre’s elite training squad, which includes the Brownlees. The site will also continue to be used for grass sports including football and rugby. The next phase of development will see three additional grass pitches, with work scheduled for completion in September 2017.

The University has invested over £25m in new sports facilities over the past 10 years and these improvements complement nearby Sports Park Weetwood, the University’s flagship 100-acre facility used by students and members of the community for hockey, football, rugby, cricket, lacrosse, American football and more.


Find ouit more about the development on our campus developments website. 

If you have any questions about this story please contact Tilly Hall:, 0113 343 7525.

Brownlee Second at BBC SPOTY

Ali Brownlee winning at Olympic games in Rio 2016

Huge congratulations to University of Leeds Alumnus Alistair Brownlee who claimed second place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016. 

Alistair came second behind Andy Murray with 121,665 votes, a fantastic achievement.

It’s been a brilliant year for Alistair which began with him winning the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Series when it came to his homeland in Leeds, cheered on by thousands of fans in the city.

Alistair went on to become the first man to ever retain the Olympic men’s triathlon title, finishing ahead of brother and fellow alumnus Jonny who claimed the silver at Rio 2016.

In September Alistair made headlines again at the World Series final in Mexico when exhausted brother Jonny who was leading the race with 700m to go started to weave from side to side, after being hit with heat exhaustion. Alistair came round the corner, saw his brother and helped him run the final meters before pushing him over the line in second place. A very dramatic end to the Triathlon World Series and the ultimate show of sportsmanship from Alistair.

You can watch a video of the finish here. 

“It’s been a fantastic year for Alistair and we’re very proud of his achievements as an Alumnus of the University.”

Patrick Craig, Assistant Head of Sport at The University of Leeds.

Find out more about Alistair online here.


Alumni Olympic Champions

brownlee brothers celebrating race together

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. 


New £5m cycle track’s wheels in motion

new cycle track birds eye view


Starting gun fired on £5m sports facility fit for Olympians

Work has officially started on a £5m University of Leeds sports development that will enhance facilities for cycling and triathlon in the region.

The project for a 1.6km (1 mile) outdoor cycling circuit and refurbished sports pavilion on the University’s Bodington playing fields in North Leeds will provide a traffic-free environment for cycling.

The 6m-wide, Tarmac-surfaced circuit should be ready early next year for University students, staff and the wider community to use for all levels of cycling including recreation, coaching and competition.

The development comes just after some 8,000 people took part in the Leeds Sky Ride earlier this month, with part of the city centre closed to traffic for the two-wheeled enjoyment of all ages.

What’s more, there are just days to go before the Rio 2016 games start. The city’s Olympic competitors, including University of Leeds alumni Alistair and Jonny Brownlee and Gordon Benson, will have access to the new facilities at Bodington.

The pavilion will create a home for British Triathlon’s world-leading Leeds Triathlon Centre, providing strength and conditioning training, physiotherapy and other support services.

The proposals, which are part of the University’s sports and physical activity strategy, have been drawn up in partnership with British Cycling, British Triathlon, UK Sport and Leeds City Council.

Partnership funding from Sport England, British Cycling and UK Sport is contributing £1m to the project, with the remaining funding provided by the University.


Patrick Craig, the University’s Assistant Head of Sport, said:

“This is a success story for cycling in the city and beyond. It will ensure cyclists of all abilities in Yorkshire and across the north of England have some of the best facilities in the UK available close to home.

We’ve already seen how the University’s graduates have dominated top level sports cycling through the Triathlon World Series, an achievement which everyone in Leeds can be proud of. Opening this new track reinforces our vision of becoming the number one provider of higher education sport and physical activity experience in the UK.

I’m also very pleased to say to competitive cyclists anywhere in the region that this circuit is available to them to train on. This is a University of Leeds facility which will be ready and waiting to help our students and graduates and everyone else to use to improve their performance.”

Charles Johnston, Sport England’s Property Director, said:

“Thanks to this new development, British triathletes will have access to the dedicated world-class training and support facilities they need to be the best.

But it’s not all about Olympians. When Sport England invests in facilities, we make sure everyone can benefit, regardless of ability. This centre is no different. I’m looking forward to seeing our top athletes and members of the community all using and enjoying these fantastic facilities for years to come.”

artists impression of cycle track

John Mills, Director of Coaching, Education and Development at British Cycling, said:

“We’re very pleased that the closed road circuit is now a step closer. We look forward to continuing to work with the University of Leeds on this exciting project, which will provide a traffic-free facility for Leeds residents to cycle on for both sport and recreation.”

The Brownlee brothers’ coach, Malcolm Brown MBE, a performance coach at Leeds Triathlon Centre, said:

“Leeds Triathlon Centre will shortly have a home in this exciting new development. We are very grateful to all the key partners who have contributed to enable us to put down roots in the city. We now have a platform for further expansion of the sport.”

Angie Foley, a volunteer at Leeds Mercury Cycling Club, said:

“This is a really exciting time for cycling clubs across Leeds. Our club currently uses a car park for coaching young children, which is a huge barrier for progression, stopping many from cycling beyond the age of around 12. The new purpose-built facility at Bodington will help us to keep young people cycling through their teenage and well into their adult years.”

The improvements complement Sports Park Weetwood nearby, the University’s flagship 100-acre facility used by students and members of the community for hockey, football, rugby, cricket, lacrosse, American football and more.

The Bodington site is currently used for grass sports including football and rugby. These uses will continue after the redevelopment.


Great Britain’s Triathlon Olympic team

  • Five of the six athletes selected for Great Britain’s Triathlon Olympic team train at the Leeds Triathlon Centre, which is a collaboration between the University of Leeds, British Triathlon, and Leeds Beckett University, offering elite training for top triathletes. The new cycling circuit will become part of this centre.
  • University of Leeds graduates claimed every place in the Team GB men’s triathlon squad. They are Jonny Brownlee (BA History 2012), Alistair Brownlee (BSc Sports Science and Physiology 2009) and Gordon Benson, (BSc Nutrition 2016). All three continue to make regular use of training facilities at the University, including the pool at The Edge centre and will use the new circuit.
  • Vicky Holland and Non Stanford, also members of Leeds Triathlon Centre, are two of the three selected for the Olympic women’s triathlon team.



University Hosts Triathlon VIP Dinner

With the announcement that the World Triathlon Series will return to Yorkshire in 2017, Leeds has reinforced its status as one of the global centers for world class triathlon and the University of Leeds continues to be a major influence in the sport locally, nationally and internationally.

This was cemented when dignitaries from across the triathlon world came together at the University of Leeds for a reception jointly hosted by Vice Chancellor, Sir Alan Langlands and the Leader of Leeds City Council, Councillor Judith Blake. Guests in attendance included the ITU Executive Board, British Triathlon and senior members of staff from across the University and the city of Leeds. Sir Alan spoke passionately about how important triathlon is to the University and the city, reinforcing our commitment to supporting the development of sport on the world stage.

artists impression of cycle track

This comes at a time when the University awaits planning permission for a £4.7m cycle track and triathlon performance centre development at The University of Leeds. The new development will be home to the Leeds Triathlon Centre and 5 of the athletes who have been selected to represent Great Britain at the Rio Olympics this summer.

“The Leeds Triathlon Centre will shortly have a home in this exciting new facility development. We are very grateful to all the key partners who have contributed to enable us to put down roots in the city. We now have a platform for further expansion of the sport”

Malcolm Brown, Performance Coach Leeds Triathlon Centre

UK Sport and British Cycling have joined the University of Leeds to fund the exciting new project, strengthening the partnership between the organisations and the University.

“We are delighted to be able to add this new cycle track and sports pavilion to our growing portfolio of top class sport facilities. To be able to do this is partnership with world leading sports bodies including British Cycling, British Triathlon, UK Sport and Sport England reinforces our vision of becoming the number one provider of higher education sport and physical activity experience in the UK and demonstrates our desire to support the development of sport on the world stage”

Patrick Craig, Assistant Head of Sport

Find out more about triathlon at the University of Leeds on our triathlon webpage.


Leeds Athletes Dominate World Triathlon Leeds

Athletes based at the ever growing Leeds Triathlon Centre dominated the World Triathlon Leeds weekend, claiming eight medals across five events, including a Brownlee 1-2 in the finale.

The University of Leeds is a key partner in the Leeds Triathlon Centre and many current students and notable Alumni train here, including Olympic heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee. The Brownlee brothers are two of the best triathletes in the world and proved why they have been a force to be reckoned with on the world stage of triathlon by winning the gold and silver medal in the elite men’s race in their hometown.

A mistake in transition one by Jonathan Brownlee could have ruined the fairy tale ending, but his brother Alistair slowed the leading bike pack of three to allow him to catch up and bridge the gap. As soon as the Brownlees were together on the bike with the Australian Royle and Frenchman Raphael, all four showed their true class in front of the streets of Leeds lined with thousands of fans. With all four of these incredible athletes sharing the workload, they managed to extend their lead out to over two minutes by the end of the bike leg.

On the run leg Alistair Brownlee, cheered on by tens of thousands of people around the city centre, looked comfortable and pushed out in front to take the gold medal with a time of 1:49:27. Younger brother Jonathan Brownlee tried to keep up but didn’t have the legs after the gruelling 41.5km cycle and had to settle for the silver medal.

In the women’s race it was Leeds based Jessica Learmonth and Lucy Hall that dominated the early stages of the race. After coming out of the water in first and second place, they joined up with Bermudan athlete Duffy to put on an absolute masterclass on the bike to give them a minute and a half cushion going into the run.

Despite the impressive first two legs of the race from Learmonth and Hall, it was Leeds teammate Vicky Holland that took a podium spot with an impressive run leg to seal her a bronze medal. The race was won by favourite Gwen Jorgensen (USA), with Duffy (BER) in second.

After a difficult swim leaving her over a minute behind, Non Stanford managed to make up the difference with a solid bike and run leg to finish ninth, with Learmonth finishing in 10th, her highest ever finish in a World Triathlon Series race, and Lucy Hall finished in 13th.



On the Saturday, University of Leeds students also had some impressive performances at the British Junior Super Series race. European junior silver medallist Sam Dickinson continued his incredible season with a fourth consecutive Super Series victory in the Junior Aquathlon, finishing ahead of teammate Jack Willis in second. In the junior women’s race Mary Hodgson ran well to take a bronze medal, her third straight Super Series podium.

Sam had a great swim to come out of the water third, however a quick transition let him go out into the run in the lead and he never looked back. Jack was eighth out of the water, however he also had a quick transition and started the run quickly to leap frog his competitors and sit in second place behind Sam. That order would remain unchanged throughout the rest of the race to cross the line. Six other Leeds Triathlon Centre or Yorkshire Academy athletes finished in the top 16; Ed Beecher (5th), Lewis Byram (8th), Jimmy Lund (12th), Jordan Hull (14th) & Tyler Hutchinson (16th).

Mary, who has had a couple of tough races recently, used her impressive run to overtake several athletes after coming out 10th in the swim. She had managed to get up to fifth position after transition and the first lap, then used an even quicker lap to get herself onto the podium. Four other Leeds Triathlon Centre or Yorkshire Academy athletes finished in the top 20; Lucy Byram (11th), Erica Byram (15th), Harmonie Waterman (19th) & Jemma Speers (20th)

In the British Triathlon Open Age Aquathlon, University of Leeds student Richard Allen broke the course record, thanks to an all-round performance, to secure the gold medal. Leeds Beckett University student Ben Rhodes finished the race in the bronze medal position.


Sprint and standard distance

In the Sprint Distance Open Race, Matthew Burt (University of Leeds) posted the fasted swim time overall to take a bronze medal in the 20-24 age group, with teammates James Scott Farrington (4th) and Ben Rhodes (5th) not far behind.

In the women’s standard distance event, University of Leeds student Chloe Scotchbrook took a silver in the 20-24 age group with a time of 02:21:05.


A huge congratulations to all those who took part in the event – we hope to see you doing just as well again next year!

Leeds Dominates Olympic Triathlon Team

brownlee brothers celebrating race together

With less than 60 days to go until Rio 2016 British Triathlon have announced who will represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games this summer and all three men are from the University of Leeds.

The men’s team includes defending Olympic Champion Alistair Brownlee and his brother Jonny who are both alumni of the University of Leeds. The third and highly contested spot in the team has been given to current student Gordon Benson who will be competing at his first Olympic Games this summer. The GB team will be aiming to better their double medal haul of Gold and Bronze at London 2012.

Alongside the men’s team will be Non Stanford, Vicky Holland and Helen Jenkins who make up the GB women’s team. Non and Vicky are part of the Leeds Triathlon Centre alongside Alistair, Jonny and Gordon. This elite training centre for top triathletes in the UK is a collaboration between the University of Leeds, British Triathlon, and Leeds Beckett University which gives athletes access to the best coaches, facilities and training environments to achieve their world class ambitions.

Leeds will have the chance to see these great athletes in action on Sunday when the ITU World Triathlon Series comes to the city. With the full men’s team, Non and Vicky set to race against the worlds elite.

“The investment the University of Leeds has made over the last 5 years has placed us at the forefront of world triathlon, in terms of training facilities and coaching as well as the opportunities for our students to study a world-class degree and be engaged with the sport at every level”

Patrick Craig, Assistant Head of Sport at The University of Leeds


Find out more about how the University has supported these athletes throughout their studies here.

First time triathlon success!

Triathlon bursaries at The University of Leeds

As the University of Leeds continues to lead the way for triathlon training and development in the UK, a key aim is to make triathlon as open and accessible for anyone wishing to get stuck in. One of the exciting opportunities available for students and staff, is being able to apply for a bursary from Leeds Sport for entry in to any triathlon in Yorkshire.

We’ve recently heard back from two of our bursar’s, Katie Boag and Shelley Parry, about their recent experience participating in the Skipton Triathlon. For both Katie and Shelley, taking part in a triathlon was a totally new adventure. Whilst Shelley was inspired by the upcoming World Triathlon Series, Katie was persuaded to sign up by her friends as she was looking for a challenge.

“I’d always wanted to attempt a triathlon but wasn’t sure how to go about it. Upon coming back to Leeds after my placement year, the influence of the Brownlee brothers was evident, with a huge amount of sprint triathlons and even the ITU World Triathlon Series happening in the area.” 


Shelley joined with a team of colleagues and got involved with the Get Out, Get Active programme run through Leeds Sport which offers both swimming lessons and bike rides, perfect for training for the event. Katie on the otherhand, dusted off her swimming costume, and bought herself a new bike to cycle round the Dales on sunny Sundays.

On the day itself, the sun was out and proved perfect conditions for the pairs first triathlon. The two commented on how they had enjoyed the experience and were both looking forward to signing up to future events.

“On the day, I was very nervous but thoroughly enjoyed the experience (helped by the great weather!) and can’t wait to sign up to my next triathlon. But first, my next challenge is the Leeds RAG Bike to Berlin…” 


“I loved the thrill of the crowd running from the pool to our bikes in the transitions, and they spurred me on in my low moments in the final few KM of the run! All in all it was a fantastic day and the adrenaline of the race made me smash the time I was aiming for, I completed the race in 1 hour 39 minutes including my transitions, and I was the 14th woman to cross the finish line. I cant wait to sign up for my next triathlon!” 


For more information about triathlon or if you would like to apply for a triathlon Bursary please click here

Win Grandstand Tickets To World Triathlon Series in Leeds

win 2 x tickets to the world triathlon series

We have 5 pairs of grandstand tickets to give away for the Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon in Leeds on the 12th June! 

This is a fantastic opportunity to watch Olympic heroes and University of Leeds Alumni Alistair and Jonny Brownlee battle for glory against some of the world’s best triathletes in their last race on home soil ahead of Rio 2016.

Ticket holders will enjoy unsurpassed views of the racing action from the comfort of their seat overlooking the finish-line in the heart of Millennium Square. A big screen will be located opposite the Grandstand showing the live BBC coverage and the elite athletes will pass the Grandstand seven times on the bike and four times on the run. Ticket holders will also witness the end of the men’s and women’s race which are often a thrilling sprint finish.

Enter Now!

Complete the form below to enter the competition and be informed about other exciting triathlon events and competitions at the University of Leeds. Entry closes at midnight on the 6th June 2016.

First Name:
Position: Staff Student AlumniPublic

Find more about Triathlon at the University of Leeds here.

Download the full Grandstand Ticket Competition terms and Conditions here.

FREE Places at GO TRI Festival

Women swimming waiting for start of go tri event

As part of the fantastic Columbia Threadneedle World Triathlon Leeds Weekend on the 11th June there is a GO TRI festival taking place.

GO TRI is a fun and friendly way to get started in triathlon, so if you have been thinking about giving it a go, this is your chance. Plus we have 50 FREE places up for grabs!

Our 50 free places will get you free entry into the GO TRI Triathlon (200m Swim, 10km Bike, 2.5km Run).

Claim your FREE place by emailing Oliver Hylands (Triathlon Development Officer): for your free code. 

To help you prepare for the event we will be hosting various free, beginner friendly training opportunities. Find out more on our triathlon webpage get involved section.

More information about the event and beginners tips can be found on the GO TRI website.