Alistair Brownlee, 28, who won gold medals at the London and Rio Olympic Triathlons, told the BBC that he will take two years away from Olympic distance racing to train for an eventual attempt at the Ironman World championship in Hawaii.
“I’m going to pursue things away from Olympic triathlon; it's important I have a different focus,” Brownlee told the BBC. “I’ve been to three Olympics and I can’t say I won’t definitely be at a fourth.”
The elder Brownlee brother finished 12th in his Olympic debut in 2008 in Beijing.
“All triathlete have the ambition to do the almost mystical Ironman World Championship in Hawaii,” added Alistair, who topped his brother Jonny’s bronze medal in London and silver medal at Rio.
While 2008 Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany successfully made the jump to Ironman distance – four times longer than Olympic distance triathlons – it took Frodeno two years after his 6th place finish at the 2012 London Olympics to evolve into a Kona podium finisher.
"It's very unlikely that I could do it in the next two years,” said Brownlee. “But I could build up my endurance then maybe go back to it after Tokyo as a 32-year-old."
While Frodeno remains at the top of the Ironman game after breaking the Ironman distance record with a 7:35:39 clocking at Challenge Roth this summer, five-time ITU Olympic distance World Champion Javier Gomez of Spain is also the object of speculation about an eventual shift to Ironman racing.
According to reports, Gomez might have graduated from Olympic distance after an anticipated attempt at a 6th ITU Olympic distance World Title culminating at the WTS Grand Final this year. But a training crash on his bike left Gomez with a broken radial head of his left arm and unable to compete. According to long time ITU race commentator and coach Barrie Shepley, Gomez put off his Ironman plans in order to take a run at the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Series title.
According to Shepley, Alistair Brownlee plans to contend at the some Ironman 70.3 races leading up to the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thereafter, the elder Brownlee will evaluate his fitness and health before deciding whether he will qualify for and compete at Kona in 2018.