Brothers in arms: Jonny (right) and Alistair Brownlee after winning Silver and Gold at 2016 Olympics (Image: PA)
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This time there will be no-one to pick him up if he falls.
Nobody to drive him through the swim, bike and run phases of tomorrow’s Tokyo triathlon.
No fraternal rivalry to sharpen the competitive edge as he battles to keep the Olympic gold medal in the family.
The starting line in Odaiba Bay will be a very different place to be for Jonny Brownlee without brother Alistair.
Think Morecambe without Wise, gin without tonic, You get the idea. For as long as we can remember they have come as a package.
But now these “two ordinary men from Yorkshire”, as they refer to themselves, are down to one.
Alistair, winner in London and Rio, is missing and the challenge for the younger sibling is to show that he can function alone.
He has said all the right things about it being his chance to shine and that if he didn’t genuinely believe he could win he wouldn’t be here.
He ain't heavy: Jonny helped to finish line in Mexico by Alistair after collapsing during 2016 World Championships in Mexico
But he admits: ”Without Alistair being here it’s different. Yeah, it’s weird.”
Brownlee explains: “If I go back to 2012 I was training towards those London Olympics knowing that Alistair was going to win, because he was so unbelievably fit.
“I wouldn’t say I was a beaten man on the start line but I knew everyone else was pretty much fighting for silver and bronze.
Brothers show off their Olympic medals after finishing first and second at Fort Copacabana in Rio
“In Rio, it was the same. He wasn’t quite that much better than me but I knew, deep down, he was still better.
“This time that’s obviously not the case and not having that build-up – knowing your brother, your team mate, is definitely the one who’s going to beat you – might be the difference.”
Alistair has doled out a fair bit of tough love to Jonny down the years but forget it if you think he’s going to turn his back on him now.
“If anything I’d say the dynamic between us is stronger because Alistair, by stepping away, can give me advice and I genuinely know it’s in my best interests," said Jonny.
“I always thought it was but before he was a competitor as well. Over the last six months he’s been incredible.
“He’s a guy who doesn’t say a lot but when he does say something you know he means it. When he says you’ve got a chance you know you have.
“And he has said that.
Top of the world: Jonny Brownlee crowned world triathlon champion in 2012
“He really is desperate for me to go well,” Jonny added. “And with his backing I do feel this is a chance for me.”
The younger Brownlee has spent a career not being the best in his family, yet ranked number two in the world. That can’t have been easy.
“Yeah, but one of the things I’m proudest of in my career is not showing any jealousy or envy,” he said.
Jonny: 'With Alistair's backing I do feel this is a chance for me'
“Alistair won in London yet when I crossed the finish line again behind him in Rio it was not ‘why can’t I win a gold medal? Why is it always him’? It was very much ‘I got beaten by the better person on the day’.”
Tomorrow he just might change that. One thing's for sure, he won’t fail through any lack of effort – or support from his big brother.