BRENDAN Sexton has given himself four years to find four minutes.
The Maitland-raised triathlete declared he will be chasing Great Britain’s celebrated Brownlee brothers at Rio de Janeiro after finishing 35th on his Olympic debut at London on Tuesday.
Sexton completed the 1.5-kilometre swim, 43km ride and 10km swim in 1hour, 50.36minutes, 4:11 behind pre-race favourite Alastair Brownlee (1:46.25), who earned the host nation’s 19th gold medal.
The champion’s younger sibling Jonathan finished third in 1:46.56, and Spain’s Javier Gomez collected the silver in 1:46.36.
The 27-year-old Sexton, one of three Australians in the 55-strong field, acknowledged the Brownlees had dominated the sport in recent times and said the Olympic
event was ‘‘their race to lose, basically’’.
‘‘They had a lot of pressure on them, but it just proves they are champions,’’ he said.
‘‘They had the weight of the country on their shoulders and they’ve performed.
‘‘They’ve backed it up. I’ve got another four years to chase them now.’’
Sexton had mixed emotions about his performance. He was thrilled just to be competing but disappointed with his finishing time. He said the experience would motivate him to become a two-time Olympian in 2016.
‘‘I’ve always had Rio in the back of my mind, and this has just spurred me on to work hard for another four years ... I’ve got another four years of working towards a better result,’’ he said.
Sexton considered himself a dark horse for a medal but knew he was struggling when he got stuck behind the pack in the swimming leg, eventually emerging from the water of Hyde Park’s ‘‘Serpentine’’ in 47th place.
‘‘I was always going to have to have the race of my life to do what I wanted,’’ he said.
‘‘I always had a really good result in the back of my mind. I was always going to chase it no matter what.
‘‘The only pressure was from within myself to go as hard as I could all day. I did, so I’m proud to say I did that.’’
Sexton, who was in a training camp in France when his Australian teammates marched at the opening ceremony in London, said it was a surreal moment as he awaited the starter’s gun.
‘‘To make the team in itself was a massive deal for me,’’ he said. ‘‘The whole selection process was quite stressful for me.
‘‘It took until a few weeks ago that it actually sunk in that I was going to race here.
‘‘I didn’t really believe it until I was standing on the pontoon a couple of hours ago.’’
After his swimming leg, Sexton tried valiantly to make up time but was disappointed a group of the mid-placed riders did not make more effort to attack as a group.
Underlining his frustration, a rival competitor walked up to Sexton after the race, congratulated him for ‘‘working hard’’ and said others in the race were ‘‘useless’’.
‘‘It was tough,’’ Sexton said.
‘‘It was on the whole day.
‘‘I didn’t really get a let-up, which was always going to be the case for me.
‘‘I was always going to have to have the swim of my life to make that front group.
‘‘It was always going to be a fast swim. I made it to that third group and we made it to that second group.
‘‘But there was probably only half the group doing some hard work, and the rest were sitting there not really interested in catching the first group.
‘‘Some of us were working. Some of them weren’t.
‘‘By the time I got to the run, my legs were pretty shot.
‘‘It took about three kilometres before I found my rhythm.’’
Sexton’s swim time of 18:53 was 1:57 behind race leader, Slovakia’s Richard Varga.
He made up ground on his bike, completing the ride in 58:51, the 17th-best cycle time, and moved to 35th, 1:37 off the lead.
He finished with a 31:41 in the run.