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The Brownlee brothers set the pace for the day, with Jonathan Brownlee earning silver and Henri Schoeman grabbing a surprise bronze.
Though race morning greeted the 55 men with warm and humid conditions, it wasn’t nearly as sweltering as many feared it would be. Right at 11 a.m. local time, the athletes ran over the sand of Copacabana Beach and into the Atlantic Ocean for the one lap, 1500-meter swim.
Slovakia’s Richard Varga led out of swim, with a long trail of athletes right behind him. Both Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee were near the front coming out of T1 and together they immediately demanded a fierce pace from those around them. That high speed quickly dwindled the lead group down to 10 as the men took on the tough and hilly eight-lap bike course. Joining the Brownlees in that front pack were Varga, Vincent Luis (FRA), Ben Kanute (USA), Aaron Royle (AUS), Marten Van Riel (BEL), Alessandro Fabian (ITA), Henri Schoeman (RSA) and Andrea Salvisberg (SUI). At this point the race was playing out exactly how the Brownlee brothers had hoped – both part of the lead pack with the fastest runners left to try to keep the gap to a minimum. The group initially looked to be building the advantage with every lap, but the chase pack eventually got organized and was able to minimize the damage.
It was too little too late though as Varga led that group of 10 into T2 with a solid one-minute advantage. Onto the run, Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee immediately took control and, as long as they could handle the Rio conditions, it became clear that they would both again be on the Olympic podium. The two ran together out front the first half of the 10K, but eventually Alistair decided to break away and work to reclaim his gold medal. In the 17 times the Brownlee brothers have competed against each other at the Olympic distance, Jonathan has never beaten Alistair and that would be no different today.
Alistair Brownlee carried the top spot all the way to the finish line, becoming the first athlete in triathlon’s 16-year Olympic history to successfully defend an Olympic gold medal. Jonathan Brownlee improved on his 2012 bronze medal, earning the silver right behind his brother. Schoeman, an up and comer on the International Triathlon Union circuit, found peak form at the right time to claim the bronze medal. It could have easily been a repeat of the 2012 Olympic podium, except silver medalist Javier Gomez (ESP) was forced to withdraw from the Olympic competition after breaking his arm in a bike crash one month ago.
Joe Maloy was the top American at the finish line in 23rd, with Kanute following in 29th. Billington finished 37th.
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2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Aug. 18, 2016
1.5K swim, 40K bike, 10K run
1. Alistair Brownlee (GBR) 1:45:01
2. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) 1:45:07
3. Henri Schoeman (RSA) 1:45:43
4. Richard Murray (RSA) 1:45:50
5. João Pereira (POR) 1:45:52
6. Marten Van Riel (BEL) 1:46:03
7. Vincent Luis (FRA) 1:46:12
8. Mario Mola (ESP) 1:46:26
9. Aaron Royle (AUS) 1:46:42
10. Ryan Bailie (AUS) 1:47:02
23. Joe Maloy (USA) 1:48:30
29. Ben Kanute (USA) 1:48:59
37. Greg Billington (USA) 1:52:04