Alistair Brownlee’s key to triathlon triumph – baby oil

The Olympic champ talks training, his brother and meeting the Queen

Alistair Brownlee won a gold medal in the triathlon at the 2012 Olympics. But that doesn’t mean he’s used to hearing the crowd scream quite so loud…


What’s a typical day’s training?

I train seven days a week generally: usually an hour-and-a-half swim in the morning, then a 70-minute run and a four-hour bike ride, with another 40-minute run in the evening.

Even on Christmas Day?

Oh yeah, but I have three weeks off at the end of the season in September. If I train in the morning it means I can eat more Yorkshire puddings and trifle!

What’s the unhealthiest thing you do?

During the season, the races are so close together that it’s all about recovery and preparing for the next one. But I sometimes reward myself with a pint and a kebab or pizza.

What’s your least favourite discipline?

The swimming is tough. I’m in the pool in an enclosed environment, which I don’t like, and it’s just a relentless slog up and down.

After the swim you have to get straight on a bike.

How do you prevent chafing?

Wearing a wetsuit can really cause painful chafing. The best way to avoid it is to cover yourself in baby oil and Vaseline. Baby oil is best because it also really helps in getting the wetsuit off as quickly as possible.

You compete against your brother Jonny. Is there anything he’s better at than you?

I’m a lot more scientific than Jonny, but he’s much better at art and languages. I’ve always been useless at ball sports, so he’s also much better than me at cricket and football.

This world series grand final is being run in Hyde Park where you won Olympic gold. What’s your abiding memory of that day?

I’ll never forget going out for a warm-up and seeing thousands of people lining the course. And then the noise was deafening. I’ve never experienced that before or since.

After the Olympics, did you notice a change in the way people reacted to you?

It was a massive change. Overnight I went from not being recognised to not being able to walk down the street without being asked for an autograph or photo. It got a bit tiring, but it’s never a problem as people are so positive.

When you received your MBE from the Queen, did you compliment her on her parachute jump at the Opening Ceremony?

No, I never got round to that! I was nervous because we’d been briefed on how to approach the Queen and not to turn our back on her. She was very knowledgeable, though, and asked me how long I was going to continue racing. But I didn’t have the nerve to ask her if she’d actually watched my race.

Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are in Keeping Up with the Brownlees, Tues 8pm BT Sport 1 plus see Triathlon: World Series Grand Final, Sunday 1pm BBC2, Radio 5 Live