After you, mon frère, I insist

With less than two years until the 2012 London Olympics, Team GB have restated their aim to target a Top Four finish in the overall medals table. Watching the Triathlon World Championship Series in Hyde Park a couple of weeks ago when first Alistair and then younger brother Jonny Brownlee emerged from the water, I wondered whether two of the 2012 medals would end up in the same family.

They would not be the first siblings to take each other on at the Olympics. The Williams sisters have made a habit of dominating tennis finals tournaments around the globe, including at the Olympics, and Steven, Mark and Diana Lopez, Taekwondo internationals, were the first trio of siblings, at the Beijing Olympics, to compete together since 1904. They also happened to have been coached by their brother, Jean.

While the Tour de France may be finished, with the vaguest of notions that my next book might incorporate taking on the 4,000km course, I have been reading every book on the Tour that I can find, from the brave but extremely depressing Bad Blood, about doping, to the charming biography of one Tour de France competitor by his brother – Jean Bobet’s Tomorrow, We Ride. The brothers never rode in the Olympics, and Louison was far superior, winning in three consecutive years from 1953-55. But the brothers rode together at every opportunity, the older, better rider encouraging the younger while the younger acted as unofficial domestique and pace-maker for the elder.

It is unlikely that we will see the same level of camaraderie between Jonny and Alistair Brownlee in two years’ time. In the final few hundred metres of the Hyde Park race Alistair disappeared from camera view as he looked worryingly close to passing out and finished in tenth place, in a race he won last year. His younger brother meanwhile overtook him and finished second.

You can get good money on an Olympic Gold-Silver achievement for the Brownlees, but the question, of course, is in which order.

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About Robin Harvie

I have been running marathons for ten years. But when I couldn't around faster than 3 hours 12 minutes, I decided to see how far I could run before I keeled over. Turns out pretty far. In September 2009 I took on the Spartathlon - 152 miles from Athens to Sparta. Non stop. Why We Run is about that journey and about why we run at all.
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