Brownlee brothers set for Leeds showdown
THE DOUBLE Olympic success of Alistair and Jonny Brownlee made the brothers heroes in their native Leeds.
And in just a few short weeks the pair will get to feel at first-hand the enthusiasm their success has generated when they fulfil a jointly long-held dream in June by appearing in the first ITU World Triathlon Series event in their home city.
For Ali in particular, that event will provide a timely reminder of the rising profile they have given their sport in Great Britain before they head off to face the very different pressures of repeating their medal success in Brazil later this summer.
“The Leeds event is something we’ve been backing for a long time and it’s a really important part of our build-up towards Rio,” Ali said.
“Rio is going to be very different to London. There’s not going to be the same kind of pressure because although people will be expecting you to win the gold medal, it’s not our home event.”
Sibling rivalry only stretches so far. The pair freely admit they work together in the early parts of the race in order to repel especially tough competitors and put themselves in the best possible position for the final run.
But as the finishing line approaches, that competitive spirit hewn in countless childhood games of golf and table tennis re-emerges and it once again becomes very much every man for himself.
“We might treat it like ‘us against the world’ when we’re training or competing in these events but when it comes down to it we both want to beat each other,” added Jonny.
“At the end of the day it always all comes down to being just another race.”
As one would expect of an older brother, Ali has usually come off better over just over two decades of competitive family life in the Leeds home they still share - but there is at least one aspect at which Jonny insists he still holds the upper hand.
“Ali’s hand-eye co-ordination has always been a bit rubbish, so I’m confident if you wheeled a table tennis table in here now I’d be able to beat him,” insisted Jonny.