The Brownlee Brothers
Tennis has the ace Williams sisters, then quickly fast track to motor racing’s Schumacher speedsters, and of course in times past, the football fanatics got a real kick out of watching the legendary Charlton chaps, but when it comes to internationally famous sporting siblings, Leeds has its very own.
The Brownlee brothers are triathletes currently dominating the world of endurance sport, and Alistair (24) and Jonathan (22) are tipped for the top at this year’s biggest sporting occasion, as the eyes of the world will be focussed on the athletic duo at the London 2012 Olympics. It’s a mammoth task training for any Olympic event, but when your sport consists of not one but three incredibly demanding disciplines, it’s time to grab your goggles, keep on running and get on your bike for a schedule that’s sure to stretch the fittest of the fit. VQ’s Carolyn Nicoll caught up with the Brownlees (and that’s no mean feat, they’re Olympians), as they took time out to shed some light on the hottest topic around, going for gold.
It’s the biggest Olympic event ever for teamGB. It’s being held in London and it’s almost here. How are you feeling?
A: It’s fantastic that I’m going to be a part of it and I’m doing all I can to be in the best
position possible on the day.
J: I’m feeling really good. Training’s going well, everything’s going to plan, the
confidence is there, but the Olympics still
seem like a long way off!!!!!
Do you feel that there is extra pressure as it’s being held in your home country?
A: I only feel the pressure when I’m asked the question (laughs). There’s definitely a lot more attention from the media and the public for the Olympics in London, something I’ve never experienced on such a level at any event before.
J: I think there is extra pressure, but I see it as a big advantage that it’s happening on home ground. There’s no overseas travel or different time zones involved, noacclimatization, we won’t be in a strange place or a country that we’re not familiar with. The food will be the same and we’ll stay in Leeds until just a few days before our event.
Alistair, how is the Achilles tendon tear injury and how much has it thrown your training plans?
It’s been a frustrating nightmare to be honest and much more of a mental struggle than physical. In an ideal world it would not have happened, I really did not want to be sat with a boot on my leg and
not be able to train, but I still feel that I can be at my absolute fittest for the Olympics.
Jonathan, Alistair’s your training partner. How has his recent injury affected your training?
It hasn’t really affected it that much, because I train as part of a group at Leeds Metropolitan University and Alistair’s not always there anyway. We have been in this position before due to Alistair’s injuries and we often run and go on bike rides separately, so it hasn’t felt that strange.
What’s the thing you’re most looking forward to about the Olympics?
A: The whole event will be an amazing experience. It will not only be absolutely brilliant to compete, but I think the crowds will be phenomenal. There’ll be no other triathlon like it. Plus it will be wonderful to get the chance to watch the other Olympic events, as well as the athletes in action and
to enjoy watching so many different sports.
J: It’s the same for me. I’m looking forward to the thrill of the Olympics and being a part of it will be great, also getting to see Usain Bolt run and Chris Hoy cycle will be real highlights.
What are you most apprehensive about?
A: I think, as I’m sure all the other competitors are thinking, that I’m a bit apprehensive about the actual race. I just hope that everything goes OK leading up to it. All I can ask is to be fit and healthy
on the day, and with a bit of luck that will happen.
J: It is definitely more excitement for me, than apprehension. It’ll be one of those once in a lifetime experiences and I’m really looking forward to it.
Away from the triathlon, which event and athlete would you most like to see?
A&J: Mo Farrar in the 10k and Usain Bolt in the 100 metres.
A: I could enjoy watching every sport, but the other athletics events are the ones I’d love to get the chance to see, anything endurance related are particular favourites of mine. So hopefully I’ll get to catch the marathon.
J: I’d so love to see Bolt, because he’s Usain Bolt!!! There must be so much tension for anyone competing in the 100m sprint, but he always seems so relaxed. I’d love to chat to him and ask him how he remains so calm. He’s smashed records, he’s the world record holder in the 100m, 200m and the relay. Usain Bolt is a very special athlete.
Who is your all time sporting hero?
A: I don’t really have one.
J: Haile Gebrselassie, he’s an amazing Ethiopian marathon runner, and cyclist Lance Armstrong, who stayed at the top of his sport for so long.
How did you get into competing in triathlon events?
A&J: Dad’s a runner and Mum’s a swimmer and our uncle introduced us to triathlons. We went to Bradford Grammar School and had a great teacher there called Tony Kingham, who’s really into running. At lunch times he’d encourage us to get our trainers on and take us out. It was a brilliant feeling of freedom, to be part of the outdoors and to get the opportunity to run during the school day.
We also joined the Bingley Harriers at around the age of nine and we’re still active members, racing with them. The club has always been a great way to meet and socialise with other athletes.
Of the three Triathlon disciplines, which one do you enjoy the most - running, cycling or swimming?
A&J: Running, it’s the easiest and you feel free when you’re out there enjoying the open space. You just get your shoes on and you’re out the door. Leeds is a great place to run, with the stunning Otley Chevin and Ilkley Moor close by.
Which is your least favourite?
A&J: Swimming is the toughest, particularly on the mind. We swim at 7am and it’s not always that easy getting out of bed. It’s also indoors and it is just up and down, up and down!!!
How many hours a week do you train and how do you split your time between the 3 disciplines?
A&J: We train for 35 hours a week, that’s cycling for 15 hours, swimming for 8 hours
and running for around 12 hours.
Between you, you’re tipped for a possible gold and silver. Does that add extra pressure to you or does it spur you on?
A: It does create a bit of pressure but it’s also a real motivator and the thought does
push me to be in the best possible position that I can be, regarding fitness and training. Again, I don’t feel the real pressure until I’m asked the question (laughs).
J: I don’t particularly see it as an ‘Oh no, the pressure!’ situation. I see it more as a ‘Wow!
We’ve been given this amazing opportunity’, it’s a real incentive and incredibly exciting to think that we’ve got this chance. It’s also nice to know that we’ll be there together, it’s like we’re a team in a way helping each other. Obviously you have to think about yourself when you’re competing, but it’s great to be experiencing these events with Alistair, we can have a chat and be there for each other.
Can you begin to imagine how it would eel to achieve gold and silver at London 2012?
A&J: No! (laughs). We can’t possibly imagine what it would be like and we can’t even begin to think about it. We’ll deal with it if it happens.
What’s your greatest sporting achievement to date?
A: Being double World Triathlon Champion, winning in 2009 and 2011, was just fantastic! The first time it happened so quickly and was all a bit of a whirlwind.The second time was much tougher
and that made the win so much more significant.
J: Qualifying for the Olympics and also winning the ITU Triathlon World Under 23
Championships in Budapest in 2010.
Who would you say is the most competitive out of the two of you?
A: We’re both really competitive. Jonny’s more competitive from day to day and I’m very competitive at races.
J: I actually think we’re more competitive when playing Scalextric or badminton!!! (laughs)
You’re from Leeds. What do you love about the city?
A: I was born in Dewsbury, just down the road from here, but the family moved to Leeds when I was 2 years old. It’s a nice place with everything you could possiblywant from a city, and the good thing is that it’s easy to get to the countryside very quickly. Our sports schedule is so demanding at the moment that there’s not a lot of room for socialising, but Headingley is a good spot for meeting up with friends on a night out.
J: I was born in Leeds and it has got a great city centre, really friendly, and in just 20 minutes I can be on Otley Chevin or Ilkley Moor training, plus The Yorkshire Dales are also really close.
What do you like about Leeds’ Victoria Quarter?
A: It’s a beautiful place to wander through, but I’m not a big shopper. I think the last
time I went shopping was 3 or 4 years ago.
J: I’m not particularly into shopping either but Harvey Nichols at the VQ is a really cool store. I love the feel of the Victoria Quarter, it’s got the history, it’s unique, it’s clean, it’s got a warmth to it, a friendliness, it’s a really special place.
When not triathlon training, what do you like to get up to?
A: Doing nothing! Training is very tiring, so if I do anything at all it has to be something relaxing, like reading or watching films. I also like to fly my kite. Anything that’s not
too active is ideal.
J: Something that’s pretty easy, as we do get really tired. I love playing on the Xbox and I like to watch football and rugby whenever I can. I’m a big Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos fan.
Finally……….Alistair, what fact would you say would surprise me about you?
Believe me, there is nothing that interesting or surprising about me. Other than I eat anything and everything
And about your brother?
Nothing! (laughs) Jonathan’s even more boring than me, there’s absolutely nothing
surprising about him! (laughs)
Jonathan, what fact would surprise me about you?
Oh, I’ve no idea, that’s a tough one. Iknow…..I’m the least musical person you will ever meet. I played the piano and had lessons for 3 years and still didn’t manage to pass any grade.
And an interesting fact about your brother?
Alistair is actually a really good singer!!!!!(Laughs)
Sounds great! So on that note, make a note to tune in and support the Leeds lads this
summer at the London 2012 Olympics. Let’s hope it’s all about winning medals and
less about musical medleys.Good Luck Guys!
Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee are BT Ambassadors. BT is the official communications services partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Visit www.bt.com/london2012