A father's dilemma: three events, two sons and only one winner as Alistair and Jonny Brownlee prepare for Olympic triathlon

Alistair and Jonny Brownlee go for gold in tomorrow's triathlon

Bert le Clos, the father of the South African swimmer Chad, showed how overwhelming the Games can be for Olympic parents when he made an emotional tribute to his "beautiful boy" on live television last week.

Spare a thought, then, for Dr Keith Brownlee, the father who has not one, but two sons going for gold in London tomorrow. To make matters even more nerve-shredding, they're competing in the same race.

The story of the fabulous Brownlee boys, Alistair and Jonny, Britain's top two triathletes, is the stuff of sporting fairytale. Tomorrow the brothers, who not only grew up together, but train together and live together in Leeds, go head to head in one of the Games' most gruelling events.

"We saw them on Thursday night and we won't be seeing them again before the Games," Dr Brownlee told The Independent. "All I said was: good luck and do your best."

Alistair, 24, the elder of the brothers, is also the most hotly tipped for Olympic glory, but Jonny, 22, is never far behind. At the Kitzbühel triathlon at the end of June, Alistair came first and Jonny second. At an event earlier that month in Oxfordshire, the gap between the brothers was so tight that they decided to cross the finish line arm-in-arm.

Alistair has the experience of a previous Olympics to lean back on, having come 12th in Beijing four years ago. For Jonny, it was the experience of watching his brother qualify for those Games that persuaded him to train as a triathlete himself.

"They have always been competitive, in everything they did," their father recalled. "Be it monopoly, chess, who would get up earliest ... anything."

Now their chosen field of combat is somewhat more demanding. Tomorrow's triathlon will begin with a 1,500m swimming race in the Serpentine in Hyde Park, followed by a 43km cycle race and a 10km run to the finish line. It is not for the faint-hearted.

"It was a gradual progression for them to get where they are now," said Dr Brownlee.

The man with the best chance of upsetting the party is Spain's Javier Gomez, but the prospect of a shared podium is becoming very real for the Yorkshire family. "They have been supportive of each other. They both recognise that neither would be where they are without the other," said Dr Brownlee. "I try and persuade them to think about it as a family business."

Their dad isn't letting himself get carried away, but he says he can "absolutely" relate to how Mr Le Clos must have felt watching his son win gold at the Aquatics Centre last week.

"To see that was fantastic," he said. "It's very difficult to describe what I feel. Kathy (the boys' mother) and I both just want them to finish the race healthy, intact and content. We're so proud that they've got this far. What comes next doesn't matter."

 



Suggested Topics
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Arts & Entertainment
tvJudge for yourself
Life & Style
tech
News
Tough call: is the psychological distress Trott is suffering an illness? (Getty)
healthJonathan Trott and the problems of describing mental illness
Life & Style
23 April 2014: Google marks St George's Day with a drawing depicting England's patron saint slaying a fire-breathing dragon
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents