Brownlee admits Olympic fears
Triathlon gold medal favourite Alistair Brownlee feared his Olympic dream was over before it had started as he battled an Achilles injury.
The 24-year-old from Yorkshire has dominated the sport for the past three years, winning two world titles and two European titles, but an Achilles tear in February left him sweating whether he would even make the start line.
Those fears have been allayed, with Brownlee now back to full fitness and set to compete in his first World Triathlon Series race of the season in Kitzbuhel this weekend.
The name Brownlee is expected to be one of the headline-grabbers of the Games from a British perspective, with Alistair's nearest challenger for gold likely to be his 22-year-old brother Jonny.
Alistair admits it has been a difficult few months, telling Press Association Sport at the team's kitting out day in Loughborough: "There's been lots of moments when I thought I might not make it.
"Jonny will tell you I've nearly retired about 50 times. It's tough, especially with an injury like an Achilles, where it doesn't definitely get better, there's not a defining moment.
"It's a slow process and some days it feels worse and some days it feels good. It's been a really tough few months.
"Training's been going well the last three or four weeks. Obviously it's not ideal to only have that short length of time but it can never be perfect. I'm getting there slowly and I've still got another six weeks of training to go."
The Brownlees and women's world champion Helen Jenkins booked their spots on the Olympic team last year, leaving three spots for the rest of the British athletes to compete for.
The selection process has been controversial, with British Triathlon leaving themselves the option of taking domestiques to help boost the medal prospects of their three star athletes if no one else met the very tough criteria.
And that is how it has played out, with Stuart Hayes, Vicky Holland and 20-year-old Lucy Hall being given the places, decisions that have been met with anger by many of those who did not make it.
Hayes has spent time in Leeds working with the Brownlees over the past couple of weeks, and Alistair believes the policy is the right one.
He said: "I do have sympathy for the people that missed out. But there was a selection policy there that we've all known about for two years. It's been very clear, and Jonny and me made that and everyone else didn't.
"It takes a bit of getting your head round that in triathlon you don't necessarily pick the best three athletes to give yourself the best chance of winning a medal.
"The Olympics is about performance, we're not here to make up the numbers, and we want to go out and win a medal."