(CNN)In the past year, Jonny Brownlee has grown accustomed to people jokingly asking if he needs help crossing the road.
Despite boasting 23 global senior medals at Olympic, World and European level with older brother Alistair, the Brownlee siblings, who are triathlon specialists, admit their world renown is as much for the one that dramatically got away.
Leading the World Trialthon Series finale in Mexico, Jonny was 700 meters away from the win that would have given him global glory only for his body to dramatically start shutting down.
Battling for second with South African Henri Schoeman, Alistair scooped up his brother, carrying him to the finish, thrusting him over the line in front of him, a noble gesture even if it proved insufficient for that World Series title.
“Occasionally, people shout to ask if I need help crossing the road,” Jonny tells CNN from a pre-Christmas training camp in Spain as he recalls the moment in September 2016 when the image of brothers in arms went viral. His response, he says, is to smile and move on.
Even in a local supermarket in Alicante where he is currently spending 10 days on a training camp, Jonny is now being recognized more readily than he has been at anytime in his career.
“People stop and say how nice he [Alistair] was,” he says. “It’s actually all people ever say.”
No day off on Christmas Day
To their credit, the siblings have embraced the incident, one that has brought the once bickering brothers closer together.
Growing up, even playing a game of Monopoly could spark an argument between the brothers. There is also a third Brownlee brother, Edward, who is younger than Alistair and Jonny.
Spending this Christmas at their parents’ Yorkshire home in northern England, the two triathletes will happily join in the board games but with a surprising lack of desire to win.
“I think we used up all our competitiveness for stuff like that as children, and we get enough competition from the day job,” says Alistair. “There will be other people being competitive in the family.”
While they will allow their svelte frames the luxury of gorging on the festive offerings, Christmas Day won’t pass without a training session.
“It’s never a case that I’m worrying about what my rivals are doing on Christmas Day, it’s more a case that I’m used to exercising,” adds Alistair.
‘Train with the best’
Whether on two wheels, on the water, or on two feet, as ever the goal is for a Brownlee one-two at the Commonwealth Games in a few months’ time.
For Jonny, was there ever a sense he might split from his brother and try his own path in a different training group?
“I think athletes as a whole tend to be quite scared of change,” he says. “I’ve never really thought about it. It’s always good to train with the best and Alistair’s proved he’s that.
“I’ve been afraid of change in the past but my training now differs to his in that I might go shorter or harder or easier on any given day. We’ll see if that pays off.”
Medals aside, the one joint aim is for the race in Australia not to end with one helping the other across the line. As Alistair concludes, “I think we’ve done that one!”