- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 7, 2012

LONDON — Alistair Brownlee grabbed a British flag from a fan, slowed to a jog to salute his home crowd, and then walked across the finish line to win the men’s triathlon at the Olympics on Tuesday.

The British pre-race favorite lived up to his status as the world’s leading triathlete to give the home country another gold and its first Olympic medal in the sport.

Brownlee eventually crossed 11 seconds clear of Spaniard Javier Gomez in second, but it would have been by much more if the Englishman hadn’t taken time out to savor his big moment in front of a roaring home crowd at Hyde Park.

It was nothing like the women’s race, where the gold was decided by a photo finish.

Alistair’s younger brother Jonathan Brownlee won the bronze despite a 15-second penalty for jumping onto his bike too early in the swim-cycle transition midway through the race through central London’s famed park.

Jonathan overcame the setback to hold on for third and Britain’s second triathlon medal, 18 seconds ahead of France’s David Hauss in fourth.

The late exertion for the younger Brownlee led to him being taken to the medical tent after the race with “fatigue,” according to organizers, delaying the medal ceremony for at least 30 minutes.

He was recovering fine and in the care of British Olympic Association medical staff, team leader Malcolm Green said during the delay.

Soon after, Jonathan emerged from the tent to take his place on the podium alongside his brother and Gomez. “God Save the Queen” then rang out at the medal ceremony in the middle of Hyde Park and within earshot, maybe, of the queen’s nearby Buckingham Palace residence.

Alistair Brownlee pulled away from fellow two-time world champion Gomez halfway through the 10-kilometer run to finish in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 25 seconds, adding the Olympic title to his current world and European triathlon crowns.

He was among the leading pack after the 1,500-meter swim and 43-kilometer bike ride, and then broke away in the run to cruise to victory.

He slowed right down to salute the crowd in the stands at the end, then raised the British flag over his head before breaking the tape at a walk and dropping to the floor with exhaustion.

Seconds later Brownlee reached over to Gomez, who lay on his back on the blue matting after finishing, and shook hands with his rival.

Gomez, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, also won his first Olympic medal, with the top three men all on an Olympic podium for the first time in their careers. Triathlon made its Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000.

French pair Hauss and Laurent Vidal were fourth and fifth, respectively, while defending Olympic champion Jan Frodeno of Germany was sixth.

Richard Varga of Slovakia set the early pace, emerging from the swim through The Serpentine lake first. But the Brownlee brothers followed close behind, with Jonathan fourth and Alistair sixth. The hometown favorites set the tempo for almost the entire race after that — with the help of teammate Stuart Hayes, who paced them during the bike ride.

Frenchman Vincent Luis edged ahead as the competitors went from bike to run, but it was only by a matter of seconds from the Brownlees, who arrived at the final transition side by side.

Jonathan Brownlee served his time penalty and dropped off the pace in the run, leaving his brother and Gomez, both two-time world champions, to battle for gold. They were together for around a lap, but the Englishman found another gear halfway through the final discipline and pulled away strongly to give Britain its 19th gold of the London Games, equaling its tally from Beijing with five days of competition to come.

Associated Press writer Barbara Surk contributed to this report.

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