THE BEST OF 2009: Alistair Brownlee's triathlon breakthrough
"DON'T look back. Something might be gaining on you." - Satchel Paige
WINNING FEELING: Alistair Brownlee enjoyed a breakthrough 2009 - securing the triathlon world title after a series of impressive wins (onEdition)
Perhaps someone whispered the wise words of the late Paige, one of the greatest players to grace Major League Baseball, in the ear of Alistair Brownlee after he finished 12th at the Beijing Olympics.
Triathlon may not be baseball but the principle remains the same - and it's a philosophy Brownlee has adopted in sensational style in 2009.
"It's not really a course that suits me - it's flat, lots of straights on the bike, it doesn't suit breakaways and it's a very flat run," said Brownlee.
Those were the words of the Yorkshireman when we spoke on a warm August afternoon in Hyde Park before the London-leg of the World Championship Series.
Brownlee had already claimed victory in the three Series races he'd entered in Madrid, Washington D.C. and Kitzbuhel. But was this a refreshing dose of modesty from an elite athlete or the shrewd tactics of a wily fox beyond his 21 years?
You decide - but Brownlee, less than 12 months after claiming the under-23 title, proved his World Championship credentials two days later.
Brownlee emerged from the 1500m swim of the historic Serpentine in fourth and remained in the pack at the second transition.
But it was there, at the start of the 10km running leg, that the Bingley Harrier gave the 10,000-strong home crowd their moment in the sun.
The accelerator went down, just as it had in Spain, America and Austria, and Brownlee instantly opened up an eight second lead knowing victory would place him as world number one ahead of the Grand Final on Australia's Gold Coast.
He never looked back and once Brownlee is away no-one has a chance of gaining on him - Paige would be proud.
Gold is a colour not unfamiliar to British triathletes. Helen Jenkins stood atop the World Championship podium in 2008, while Tim Don had the same pleasure two years previous.
In addition this has also been a winning year for Chrissie Wellington (who won the ironman world title) and Jodie Swallow (who claimed the ITU long distance title).
It's an impressive production line, but triathlon's World Championship was turned on its head at the end of the 2008/09 season, changing from a one-off winner-takes-all race to an eight-event series where consistency and perfection are rewarded.
And Brownlee was consistently perfect in the inaugural World Championship Series, going on to claim victory in Australia to make it five from five. A clean sweep.
Brownlee undoubtedly has his eyes set on 2012 - the Olympic course will be almost identical to that used in August - and claiming Great Britain's first triathlon medal since the sport was introduced to the Games at Sydney 2000.
He may not have fancied the course in August but he will now.
If you want to bet on a Brit to top the podium in London, then back Brownlee.
Read more 2009 memories from the Sportsbeat reporters who witnessed them: