The Brownlees: An Olympic Story


The Brownlees: An Olympic Story

Tom Fordyce speaks to triathlete brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee as he looks into what it is about their relationship that makes them so unique.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to The Brownlees: An Olympic Story. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

We are a pair.

0:00:030:00:04

We both know that we wouldn't be where we are today

0:00:040:00:07

without each other.

0:00:070:00:08

The fact that we do get grouped together means

0:00:080:00:11

we do do a lot together and I quite enjoy that.

0:00:110:00:13

Brownlee wins in London!

0:00:130:00:15

Jonathan...!

0:00:150:00:16

Alistair Brownlee is the champion.

0:00:160:00:18

Two brothers on top of the Olympic podium.

0:00:180:00:21

This is the tale of two brothers who bicker and fall out

0:00:210:00:25

like any brothers but, together, like nothing more

0:00:250:00:28

than taking on the world and winning.

0:00:280:00:31

# Marching on together

0:00:310:00:34

# We're going to see you

0:00:340:00:36

# Tra-la-la-la! #

0:00:360:00:38

What annoys you about Alistair?

0:00:430:00:46

Erm, I think him turning up late,

0:00:460:00:48

I think he gets a kick out of making people wait.

0:00:480:00:51

So in the mornings, say, in Spain, I'm all ready to go,

0:00:510:00:54

he's always the last one to come down.

0:00:540:00:56

That really annoys me.

0:00:560:00:58

And I think he knows it annoys me as well.

0:00:580:00:59

We have to give Alistair a right to reply here.

0:00:590:01:02

What about Jonny annoys you?

0:01:020:01:04

Erm, well, the fact that he actually thinks I'm late on purpose to

0:01:040:01:08

annoy him, that's quite annoying, because obviously I'm not.

0:01:080:01:11

We're not just talking about a couple of brothers from next door,

0:01:140:01:17

we're talking about the best triathletes there's ever been

0:01:170:01:20

in the history of the sport.

0:01:200:01:22

Alistair Brownlee is the Olympic triathlon champion!

0:01:220:01:26

And there will be both of the brilliant Brownlee brothers

0:01:260:01:31

on the Olympic podium, as Jonathan comes home for bronze.

0:01:310:01:38

You are Olympic champion.

0:01:410:01:43

Thank you very much.

0:01:430:01:45

Feels a bit underwhelming in a way because Jonny's just collapsed.

0:01:450:01:48

The medal ceremony was delayed a while because

0:01:480:01:50

of a medical problem for younger brother, Jonny. He's OK now.

0:01:500:01:55

When we were kids, we competed over absolutely everything.

0:01:550:01:58

Board games, badminton in the garden, cricket

0:01:580:02:01

and there were lots of times where we used to fall out

0:02:010:02:03

and the board games were tossed up in the air.

0:02:030:02:05

We literally played everything and competed over it

0:02:050:02:08

with Ed trying to keep up somewhere in the middle

0:02:080:02:10

or siding with one of us.

0:02:100:02:11

Jonathan was always much better with me,

0:02:110:02:13

he's always been a lot more kind of understanding

0:02:130:02:15

and friendlier and he always played a lot more sports.

0:02:150:02:18

We always used to go out in the garden and play football together.

0:02:180:02:21

But Alistair was a lot more individual,

0:02:210:02:23

he's kind of been on his own a lot.

0:02:230:02:24

He was not bothered about playing football, he's never been able to

0:02:240:02:27

play football very well, to be honest with you.

0:02:270:02:30

Family aside, the one person who knows the Brownlees best

0:02:300:02:34

is their coach and mentor, Malcolm Brown.

0:02:340:02:37

The first time I met Alistair Brownlee

0:02:370:02:39

was at the Carnegie running track

0:02:390:02:42

and this gentleman came walking across the track

0:02:420:02:44

with his two boys and I said, "Are you here to train?"

0:02:440:02:50

And he said, "Well, yes."

0:02:500:02:52

He pointed to the taller of the two, which was Alistair,

0:02:520:02:55

and he said, "This is Alistair.

0:02:550:02:57

"He's quite good at cross-country running but he lacks a bit of speed.

0:02:570:03:01

"I was just wondering if there's anybody here who can help him out."

0:03:010:03:04

I said, "Oh, that's interesting."

0:03:040:03:06

I said, "And the little one?" - Jonny -

0:03:060:03:08

He said, "Oh, forget him, he's a footballer."

0:03:080:03:11

There was times when I was doing other things with football,

0:03:110:03:15

rugby, and I dreamed of playing for Leeds United

0:03:150:03:18

and dreamed of playing rugby.

0:03:180:03:19

I'd been doing a bit of swimming, a bit of running

0:03:190:03:22

and I think something like eight or nine years old,

0:03:220:03:24

saw my uncle doing a triathlon and just decided to give one a go.

0:03:240:03:27

enjoyed endurance sports. Swimming and running were the things

0:03:270:03:30

that I was good at and enjoyed doing

0:03:300:03:32

and I think triathlon just had that extra element

0:03:320:03:34

of obviously the cycling but also the technical aspect

0:03:340:03:36

of jumping on and off a bike,

0:03:360:03:37

the slight tactical aspect of other people and, you know,

0:03:370:03:40

putting your T-shirt on, even having to remember your number.

0:03:400:03:43

All those things added a bit more interest to a sport

0:03:430:03:45

to a nine-year-old

0:03:450:03:47

that made it a bit more exciting than just swimming up and down.

0:03:470:03:50

What were they like at that age, as characters?

0:03:500:03:53

Alistair would generally come into to the pool about four o'clock,

0:03:530:03:56

session didn't start until half past four.

0:03:560:03:58

He was one of the kids that would always want to know what the

0:03:580:04:01

session was. I think that's the reason why he came in,

0:04:010:04:03

because I always wrote the session on the board first.

0:04:030:04:05

So he'd come, he'd observe,

0:04:050:04:07

he'd look and he'd say, "Don't like that set.

0:04:070:04:10

"Don't want to do that. Can we change that to that?

0:04:100:04:12

"Can I do this instead of that?"

0:04:120:04:14

But getting Jonny inside to start training was just...

0:04:160:04:20

I'd be banging on the window.

0:04:200:04:23

Doing the... Doing this. "Come on!"

0:04:230:04:25

And he's be standing at the window going...

0:04:250:04:27

"No, not yet."

0:04:270:04:29

And I'd be like, "Now!"

0:04:290:04:30

And then he'd come on t'poolside, muddied up as well.

0:04:300:04:33

"Go and have a shower."

0:04:330:04:35

Ten minutes later, he'd stroll back in again,

0:04:350:04:37

warm-up was just about finished.

0:04:370:04:38

"Am I doing my warm-up now?"

0:04:380:04:40

"No. You've already missed the first 400 talking.

0:04:400:04:43

"Can we...can we get going?"

0:04:430:04:45

I'd heard about Jonny because Jonny was two years younger

0:04:450:04:48

and with Alistair being in senior school, you heard the name Brownlee

0:04:480:04:51

in junior school, you thought, "Hello, this is another star."

0:04:510:04:54

And of course the reports coming through were very, very good.

0:04:540:04:57

Do you think that it was essential for Jonny

0:04:570:05:00

that he had his big brother sort of forging a path for him?

0:05:000:05:03

I think it was a very good thing for him

0:05:030:05:05

and in some ways a very difficult thing for him

0:05:050:05:07

because obviously the name Brownlee was associated with great success.

0:05:070:05:12

OK.

0:05:120:05:14

One of the influences in their lives early on

0:05:140:05:17

was my co-coach at the Leeds Triathlon Centre, Jack Maitland.

0:05:170:05:20

And Jack was looking after them

0:05:200:05:21

as part of the northern talent group

0:05:210:05:24

and he gave me a statement of how good they were,

0:05:240:05:28

which is they were amongst the best in the north of England at the time.

0:05:280:05:33

But what struck me really was their absolute love of the outdoors

0:05:330:05:39

and training.

0:05:390:05:41

So when I spoke to them about what they'd been doing

0:05:410:05:43

before they'd come to me, say, on a Tuesday night,

0:05:430:05:46

they'd already cycled to school, swam, had a run at lunchtime

0:05:460:05:51

and then turned up to do a training session.

0:05:510:05:55

And it struck me that these characters were really exceptional

0:05:550:06:00

in their enjoyment of hard work.

0:06:000:06:03

I think it clicked very quickly, really.

0:06:070:06:10

Kind of the back end of 2005,

0:06:100:06:11

I went to my first world championships as a junior,

0:06:110:06:14

was absolute useless.

0:06:140:06:15

At the time I thought I didn't have that good a race

0:06:150:06:17

but I actually had one of the quickest runs and I thought,

0:06:170:06:19

"I'm maybe not a million miles off here,

0:06:190:06:21

"I'm very young in my age group,

0:06:210:06:22

"it kind of shows me that with a bit more, I could be there."

0:06:220:06:25

I definitely kind of went away from that and thought, "Well, you know,

0:06:250:06:29

"I can be a lot better next year, I'm going to go away and be better."

0:06:290:06:32

The word determination is just synonymous with Alistair, really.

0:06:320:06:36

Alistair was a racing machine

0:06:360:06:38

because he not only ran for the school

0:06:380:06:39

but he was running for Bingley Harriers at the same time

0:06:390:06:42

in fell races,

0:06:420:06:43

many of which I didn't even know about, to be quite honest with you.

0:06:430:06:46

He'd go off in the midweek, he'd train in the afternoon

0:06:460:06:49

and then race in the evening, and I didn't know.

0:06:490:06:51

But that was the way he was.

0:06:510:06:53

He just loved racing, I think.

0:06:530:06:55

Alistair would work his transitions after training.

0:06:550:06:58

His mother often used to say,

0:06:580:07:00

"I haven't had to wash his towel for a month cos it's still dry."

0:07:000:07:03

Because I think he'd just go straight into the changing rooms,

0:07:030:07:06

shake off and he'd be in his clothes

0:07:060:07:08

and often, his mum would bring his bike down on the back of the car

0:07:080:07:12

and Alistair would be out,

0:07:120:07:14

I'd still be wiping the board from the session

0:07:140:07:17

and I'd see him going flitting past the window

0:07:170:07:19

and jumping on the bike and waving at his mum and he'd be gone.

0:07:190:07:22

Jonny, in the changing rooms, having a lovely long shower,

0:07:220:07:25

waiting for a lift home in the car.

0:07:250:07:27

But as they got older and Jonny was starting to get more

0:07:270:07:30

into his triathlons as well, it would be,

0:07:300:07:32

"How fast can we get on the bike?"

0:07:320:07:34

And Jonny didn't want to get left behind.

0:07:340:07:36

Are the boys very much a product of their environment?

0:07:360:07:39

Well, if you look around - hills, hills, hills everywhere.

0:07:390:07:43

You're either going up a hill or down a hill.

0:07:430:07:45

It's tough country and I think the boys have always loved

0:07:450:07:48

tough conditions. I mean, the tougher the conditions, the better.

0:07:480:07:51

I suppose there is that kind of rugged tradition in Yorkshire,

0:07:510:07:54

particularly the fell running and there's that kind of...

0:07:540:07:57

I wouldn't say it's a myth but...

0:07:570:07:59

The tough Yorkshireman and I think... It's there.

0:07:590:08:02

It's there, it's there with them. Yeah.

0:08:020:08:04

Were they always competitive,

0:08:040:08:06

with each other and other people in the group?

0:08:060:08:08

Yeah, the pair of them were always up for a bit of a race

0:08:080:08:12

to the top of the next hill, first man to the cafe, etc.

0:08:120:08:16

Yeah, they've...

0:08:160:08:18

I mean, anything that they'd do, as seen through the years,

0:08:180:08:20

they're always trying to be the best at it.

0:08:200:08:22

Always trying to win.

0:08:220:08:24

A lot of people, when they hear about us training 35 hours a week,

0:08:270:08:31

think that's a lot of training

0:08:310:08:35

but 90% of our training is doing that kind of talking first.

0:08:350:08:39

You're like this, you're riding round in somewhere beautiful

0:08:390:08:42

and on a day like today, it's fun.

0:08:420:08:46

So I'd say 90% of it is fun, 10% of it is not so fun.

0:08:460:08:50

The worst thing that I hate more than anything is the cold,

0:08:500:08:54

so there's those days when, for some reason, Alistair's dragged me

0:08:540:08:58

into the Dales for two hours and I've charged into Dales

0:08:580:09:01

and it starts snowing and hailing

0:09:010:09:03

and I'm thinking, you know, "50 miles home.

0:09:030:09:06

"That's a long way to go in the hail."

0:09:060:09:09

I just love being in pain.

0:09:090:09:11

You know, I actually love this, I thrive off pushing myself,

0:09:110:09:14

not only if it's a competitive situation

0:09:140:09:16

and I'm trying to hang onto someone but also just on my own, you know,

0:09:160:09:19

being able to push myself and hurt

0:09:190:09:21

and I've got no idea where that's come from.

0:09:210:09:24

I think it's just years and years of doing it maybe

0:09:240:09:27

and enjoying doing it.

0:09:270:09:29

Although I think my dad'd tell you that, you know,

0:09:290:09:31

even the first time he saw me do cross-country as a six-year-old,

0:09:310:09:35

I went red in the face and looked like I was about to die,

0:09:350:09:37

so maybe I had it then as well.

0:09:370:09:40

Now, your mum tells a story when you were probably one year old,

0:09:400:09:43

and Alistair had started going to nursery and you crawled around

0:09:430:09:47

so much looking for him that you'd actually make your knees bleed.

0:09:470:09:50

THEY LAUGH

0:09:500:09:51

The fact that Alistair was always doing things ahead of you,

0:09:510:09:54

did that make a real difference to you?

0:09:540:09:57

Yeah, definitely, yeah. I remember looking up to Alistair.

0:09:570:09:59

I remember moving into our house,

0:09:590:10:02

I've got a memory of choosing the room next to Alistair

0:10:020:10:04

even though it was the smallest room in the house.

0:10:040:10:07

For some reason, I wanted to be next to Alistair.

0:10:070:10:09

When ran in the Yorkshire cross-country team,

0:10:090:10:11

when he came back with a Yorkshire vest

0:10:110:10:13

to compete in the national champs, I thought, "I can do that as well."

0:10:130:10:16

And I've been able to do that for my whole sporting career.

0:10:160:10:18

I'm probably not the personality who's going to go out there

0:10:180:10:22

and, you know, do it for myself without someone else kind of

0:10:220:10:25

showing me the way before, and Alistair definitely did that.

0:10:250:10:28

I think I am more of a team player,

0:10:280:10:29

I'm a lot better at kind of listening to other people

0:10:290:10:34

and involving their ideas, whereas Alistair's a bit more,

0:10:340:10:37

"It's my way." Is Alistair's way always the right way?

0:10:370:10:40

In Alistair's head? Oh, in Alistair's head,

0:10:400:10:42

definitely it's always the right way. And if it's not the right way,

0:10:420:10:45

he'll just argue that it is the right way, whatever,

0:10:450:10:47

and then he'll change opinions to what he was

0:10:470:10:49

and say that he was arguing that way anyway.

0:10:490:10:52

But, yeah, he always thinks he's right, definitely.

0:10:520:10:55

'It's good in a way having someone who is a strong personality

0:10:550:10:57

'because it means that when you do something,

0:10:570:10:59

'you 100% believe in it

0:10:590:11:01

'and I think that's really, really important in sport.'

0:11:010:11:04

About half an hour and we'll come back here.

0:11:060:11:09

Does it feel like a relationship of equals or does it still feel like

0:11:140:11:17

Alistair, cos you're the big brother, you have the final say?

0:11:170:11:20

Er, I think it is more a relationship of equals.

0:11:200:11:23

I like to think my point of view is more significant

0:11:230:11:27

because I know more so... It can't be equals then, can it?

0:11:270:11:30

From that one comment, surely it can't be equals?

0:11:300:11:32

No, it's, like, equal as in

0:11:320:11:33

if you had as much clever things to say as me,

0:11:330:11:36

we'd be equal but you don't. It's a lot like...

0:11:360:11:39

I feel like you've answered the question. Yeah!

0:11:390:11:42

It's a lot like the old adage isn't it?

0:11:420:11:44

Where if, you know, if someone...

0:11:440:11:47

If you disagree with me, we have a talk about it, I listen to

0:11:470:11:49

your point of view, we have a little debate and then I decide.

0:11:490:11:53

Yeah, well, there you go.

0:11:540:11:56

Did Alistair take control of his own destiny, I suppose, quite early?

0:11:590:12:02

Very. There was a conversation that Jack Maitland had with me

0:12:020:12:06

on one of the regional development camps when they were teenagers

0:12:060:12:09

and said, "Coz, his training programme's all over the place.

0:12:090:12:12

"You see him the most, you're the one that has

0:12:120:12:14

"contact with him every day." And I just said...

0:12:140:12:17

"I just coach him for the swimming."

0:12:170:12:19

I said, "Alistair does all of his running

0:12:190:12:22

"and his cycling away from me."

0:12:220:12:23

I said, "I don't know enough about the sport."

0:12:230:12:26

So he just sort of said, "Yeah, but he is doing a lot of swimming

0:12:260:12:30

"for a triathlete." So a few sessions later, I said,

0:12:300:12:32

"Alistair, have you got time for a word?" "Yeah."

0:12:320:12:35

I said, "Jack's a bit worried.

0:12:350:12:36

"He thinks you need to balance your training programme." "Why?"

0:12:360:12:39

I said, "Do you think you're doing too much?" "No.

0:12:390:12:41

"I know what I need to be doing in ten years to be in the Olympics."

0:12:410:12:46

And the back of my brain thought, "Ooh, what's he just said?"

0:12:460:12:50

And I went, "Right."

0:12:500:12:52

And he said, "I've got to get through the 1,500 metres

0:12:520:12:55

"on an Olympics really easy. Really easy.

0:12:550:12:59

"Because I need to blow apart on the bike, you know, and the run."

0:12:590:13:03

And I said, "Right." And he said, "Three sessions a week's

0:13:030:13:05

"not going to do it, though, is it, Coz?

0:13:050:13:07

"I need to get out feeling fresh.

0:13:070:13:09

"And I need a training programme that's going to do that."

0:13:090:13:11

He said, "I'm not changing that, I know what I need to do in ten years

0:13:110:13:14

"and I'm doing it now so I'm ahead."

0:13:140:13:16

At 14. He knew.

0:13:160:13:18

There was no doubt that he was trying to become a world champion

0:13:180:13:21

as a junior. There was no doubt that he would want to then

0:13:210:13:25

be a world champion as a senior.

0:13:250:13:26

There's no doubt if you're the world champion as a senior,

0:13:260:13:28

you want to be the Olympic champion.

0:13:280:13:31

The Brownlee brothers are taking no prisoners here this afternoon.

0:13:310:13:34

ALISTAIR: I don't think they're tactfully that proficient

0:13:340:13:36

a lot of the times, these guys.

0:13:360:13:38

Both Alistair and Jonny in a race, you know,

0:13:380:13:40

pretty ruthless individuals

0:13:400:13:42

and, you know, they want their space in their water

0:13:420:13:44

and they don't want anyone to come into that

0:13:440:13:46

and there's a consequence if anybody does.

0:13:460:13:48

They a have a view of the way that the race should go

0:13:480:13:51

and how others should race and they feel quite irritated with

0:13:510:13:53

people who aren't trying to optimise their own performance

0:13:530:13:57

because they can see that if these guys did do different things

0:13:570:14:00

they would be better, so they try to give advice during the race.

0:14:000:14:03

They're pretty ruthless competitors but top-class sport is ruthless.

0:14:090:14:12

And if you're not willing to be ruthless

0:14:120:14:15

then go and do something else.

0:14:150:14:16

I think big races are the thing that probably brings us together

0:14:160:14:19

a bit more than anything, because it's at that point where

0:14:190:14:22

it feels like it's us two against everyone else in the world

0:14:220:14:25

and I think that pushes us together more than anything.

0:14:250:14:27

Rather than each other pulling us together,

0:14:270:14:29

everything else pushes us together.

0:14:290:14:31

Almost every big race we've started, still on the start line

0:14:310:14:34

and it's like, you know, we're kind of in this together.

0:14:340:14:36

Do you think he would've achieved what he's achieved without you?

0:14:360:14:40

Without you pushing him on?

0:14:400:14:41

I don't think he would've achieved that if I wasn't there.

0:14:410:14:44

Not as good.

0:14:440:14:46

He would probably argue that he would've still achieved it

0:14:460:14:49

but I don't think sometimes he realises what I can add to it

0:14:490:14:52

and how strong it is, the feeling that someone's chasing you

0:14:520:14:55

and you want to kind of push yourself on the whole time.

0:14:550:14:58

And that he doesn't realise how strong it is

0:14:580:15:00

that there wasn't a day where he could back off or a session

0:15:000:15:03

that he could back off because I was chasing after him.

0:15:030:15:05

And specially these last couple of years,

0:15:050:15:07

I think I've been very important to him as a training partner,

0:15:070:15:10

as someone he can talk to as well.

0:15:100:15:13

Has that competitiveness in training ever spilled over?

0:15:130:15:16

Yeah, it has spilled over, definitely, and...

0:15:160:15:18

Not so much in training sessions

0:15:180:15:20

but kind of training races where we've been doing races

0:15:200:15:23

that are low key and supposed to be fun.

0:15:230:15:25

Like in 2012,

0:15:250:15:27

we raced the Yorkshire Cross Country Champs and we were first and second

0:15:270:15:30

and we'd had a busy week and we should've just kind of

0:15:300:15:33

run in together or... But we were absolutely maxing it out

0:15:330:15:37

with a K to go and it was a couple of weeks later

0:15:370:15:39

that Alistair had tore his Achilles

0:15:390:15:41

so that was probably...went a long way to doing that.

0:15:410:15:44

And if both of us had backed off 10, 15 seconds

0:15:440:15:48

in the last little bit, which we could've easily done,

0:15:480:15:50

then we would've been fine.

0:15:500:15:52

With those extra couple of years,

0:15:520:15:54

Alistair's been able to take it that little step further than Jonny.

0:15:540:15:58

And I think a little bit of that is Jonny's still the younger brother.

0:15:580:16:05

A little bit of, you know...

0:16:050:16:07

He needs to still come out of the shell a little bit and

0:16:070:16:10

just convince himself that he can kick Alistair's arse.

0:16:100:16:13

LAUGHTER

0:16:130:16:16

Not that Ali's going to let him!

0:16:160:16:17

If Jonny does fall below Alistair's high standards,

0:16:190:16:22

his big brother is quick to let him know.

0:16:220:16:24

They are separated by a metre,

0:16:240:16:27

as Alistair stops to bellow some encouragement

0:16:270:16:30

towards his younger brother.

0:16:300:16:32

Gomez isn't broken yet.

0:16:320:16:34

Gomez is still fighting for his world title.

0:16:340:16:38

Oh, my word, it's Gomez's victory!

0:16:380:16:40

I'll be giving him a lot of stick for that.

0:16:400:16:43

He's thrown a world title away today

0:16:430:16:45

for being a complete tactical numpty.

0:16:450:16:48

Is that typical of their relationship? Yeah, absolutely.

0:16:480:16:51

Alistair'll be the first one to criticise Jonathan.

0:16:510:16:53

Like, whatever happens, even if he did something well,

0:16:530:16:56

Alistair would pick something at him and tell him what he's doing wrong

0:16:560:16:59

so it just sums it up, really.

0:16:590:17:01

But it was true, he was right in the end, weren't he?

0:17:010:17:03

He was an absolute tactical numpty.

0:17:030:17:05

But, no, Jonathan probably wouldn't take it from me obviously

0:17:050:17:07

but he'll take it from Alistair, being the older brother,

0:17:070:17:10

and he obviously knows what he's on about, don't he, Alistair?

0:17:100:17:13

Fast forward to his World Series victory in Gold Coast in 2015.

0:17:130:17:17

Lessons had been learned and Jonny appeared on the verge

0:17:170:17:20

of becoming top dog in the Brownlee household.

0:17:200:17:22

His chance to prove it came at the race in London at the end of May.

0:17:220:17:26

But disaster struck.

0:17:260:17:28

Jonny Brownlee has problems with his bike.

0:17:280:17:30

He's remounted

0:17:300:17:32

but there's clearly a mechanical issue for Jonny Brownlee

0:17:320:17:35

before he's even got stuck into the first lap.

0:17:350:17:39

Alistair took the win.

0:17:390:17:41

Jonny was 42nd.

0:17:410:17:43

That led to a significant injury which meant

0:17:430:17:46

that he was unable to compete in the Olympic test event in Rio.

0:17:460:17:52

After London, Jonny went to Switzerland to train,

0:17:520:17:54

and it was there that he suffered a stress fracture in his hip.

0:17:540:17:58

When injury strikes,

0:17:580:17:59

the boys turn to British triathlon's lead physio,

0:17:590:18:02

Emma Deakin.

0:18:020:18:03

The thing about athletes racing at this level,

0:18:030:18:06

they're always pushing their bodies to the extreme, really.

0:18:060:18:09

And a stress fracture is an injury,

0:18:090:18:10

it does what it says on the tin, really,

0:18:100:18:12

it's like when a bone's stressed constantly, constantly,

0:18:120:18:16

and I think you just get to the point where that's actually

0:18:160:18:18

tipped over the good side and then that causes a stress fracture

0:18:180:18:22

so there's loads of factors that can contribute as well

0:18:220:18:24

that we know about and that's the major thing, really, is

0:18:240:18:27

learning from that, for Jonny, so looking actually

0:18:270:18:29

what his training load was when he got his stress fracture,

0:18:290:18:32

what was his nutrition like, what was his recovery like,

0:18:320:18:34

and then we can look at all that to try and prevent it happening again.

0:18:340:18:37

That was the first time in ten years that Jonny's had a long period

0:18:370:18:42

away from training and racing.

0:18:420:18:44

So I think it was actually a good thing for him

0:18:440:18:46

and I think he's a better athlete now

0:18:460:18:49

and makes better judgment calls now because of that experience.

0:18:490:18:52

Alistair, on the other hand, you know,

0:18:520:18:54

has had a number of occasions in the last ten years,

0:18:540:18:57

has had two or three months when he can't run, for instance,

0:18:570:19:01

and he knows how to deal with it psychologically.

0:19:010:19:05

It's Alistair's left ankle that has caused most of the problems.

0:19:050:19:09

He might be the fittest, fastest and most determined

0:19:090:19:12

but injuries to that ankle have stopped him

0:19:120:19:14

from challenging for world titles in every year

0:19:140:19:17

since winning the Olympics.

0:19:170:19:19

Kind of had a big conscious effort this year.

0:19:190:19:22

Obviously had, you know, ankle reconstruction surgery,

0:19:220:19:26

which is a big deal in itself.

0:19:260:19:28

And I've been working very hard

0:19:280:19:32

doing everything I can with that ankle

0:19:320:19:34

and instead of doing the training that I think I need to do.

0:19:340:19:37

And if something goes wrong with the ankle, something goes wrong

0:19:370:19:41

and that's a pain in the arse.

0:19:410:19:43

I'm really doing everything I need to do kind of around the ankle

0:19:430:19:46

at the moment instead.

0:19:460:19:47

So, yeah, that's the limiting factor.

0:19:470:19:50

Do you feel like you know that ankle better then your own ankle now

0:19:520:19:54

after all the times you've treated down the years?

0:19:540:19:57

I know this ankle better than any other ankle, yeah.

0:19:570:20:00

So this is the one that had the reconstruction.

0:20:000:20:03

Yeah, so basically he had two procedures at the same time.

0:20:030:20:06

So he had the... In basic terms,

0:20:060:20:08

he had the back of the ankle washed out and cleared out

0:20:080:20:11

so that the tendons could move properly and freely through the back

0:20:110:20:14

of the ankle, and then Alistair actually had a tendon

0:20:140:20:18

and a ligament on the outside of the ankle missing,

0:20:180:20:21

so it was really unstable and then obviously he's quite

0:20:210:20:23

a toe-y runner, which means that you run in an unstable position

0:20:230:20:26

on an unstable ankle

0:20:260:20:28

so he had the lateral side of his ankle stabilised.

0:20:280:20:31

I think you'd probably had, like, what,

0:20:310:20:33

nearly three years of it being painful? Yeah.

0:20:330:20:36

Yeah, so I think... On and off.

0:20:360:20:37

..that's the main thing, like, for me, the biggest outcome

0:20:370:20:40

of the operation was for Alistair to be able to run pain-free

0:20:400:20:43

because then I don't get...

0:20:430:20:46

When you're injured or off or ill or whatever, you know,

0:20:460:20:49

you don't feel quite right.

0:20:490:20:50

I think that there's a lag, you know, cos you train so hard,

0:20:500:20:53

you're competing and travelling and stuff.

0:20:530:20:55

Definitely you have a few weeks where you think, "Actually,

0:20:550:20:58

"it's quite nice to relax a bit," but you don't feel quite right.

0:20:580:21:01

You just feel...I just feel hot and bothered and not, you know,

0:21:010:21:05

not quite with it.

0:21:050:21:06

I don't feel mentally with it, I don't feel physically with it

0:21:060:21:09

and, you know, you really miss the exercise.

0:21:090:21:11

Alistair's good in terms of he's intelligent

0:21:110:21:14

and he researches it himself

0:21:140:21:15

and he's got his own ideas and his own opinions.

0:21:150:21:18

I think my job is really just to find out options

0:21:180:21:21

and to look at sort of the best ideas around an injury

0:21:210:21:24

or best ideas around a treatment programme

0:21:240:21:26

and then let Alistair choose what he wants to do.

0:21:260:21:28

Cos it's his body and it's his ankle and he's got to run so,

0:21:280:21:31

yeah, I think that's the main thing.

0:21:310:21:33

And when he does as he's told, he's really good.

0:21:330:21:35

When he does as he's told, I like that. Yeah.

0:21:350:21:38

And when he doesn't do as he's told, he just doesn't tell me.

0:21:380:21:41

Alistair Brownlee's tactics have proved to be a stroke of genius.

0:21:430:21:48

Alistair takes the win in Stockholm, a stunning success.

0:21:500:21:55

Have you got a favourite race win?

0:21:570:21:59

I won a race in Stockholm in 2013 where there was no way

0:21:590:22:02

I really should've won that race.

0:22:020:22:04

I just chose my moment right on the bike to get away

0:22:040:22:07

and just had to hold on for dear life on the run.

0:22:070:22:09

I wasn't really that fit and I was thinking,

0:22:090:22:11

"These guys should be running me down."

0:22:110:22:13

But, yeah, just pure determination, really.

0:22:130:22:16

What does winning feel like?

0:22:160:22:18

Winning feels very different depending on the event.

0:22:180:22:21

I wanted to win the Yorkshire Cross Country Champs when I was 12,

0:22:210:22:24

I think, just as much as I wanted to win the Olympics when I was 24.

0:22:240:22:27

I've had some great experiences where I've thought, you know,

0:22:270:22:29

"That was fantastic,

0:22:290:22:30

"I got everything out of myself that day, everyone was competitive."

0:22:300:22:34

You know, the Olympics was like that for me.

0:22:340:22:35

It was that kind of experience.

0:22:350:22:37

I think if I've had

0:22:370:22:39

a really good day and I get beaten, you know,

0:22:390:22:41

I might struggle to process it that bit more.

0:22:410:22:44

But times when I've had a race and I think, "Actually..."

0:22:440:22:48

So, like in Yokohama when I raced last year,

0:22:480:22:51

I just felt terrible for the whole race.

0:22:510:22:53

The speed rises another notch.

0:22:530:22:56

Gomez has got him!

0:22:560:22:58

Gomez will win in Yokohama.

0:22:580:23:00

I just had nothing.

0:23:020:23:03

The worst I've ever felt in a race in my life.

0:23:030:23:06

'To cross the line in second, I thought, "This is brilliant."

0:23:060:23:08

'Like, "There's no way I should even be here,'

0:23:080:23:11

"I only got here by just putting myself through more

0:23:110:23:14

"than anyone else has,"

0:23:140:23:15

and so I was actually really satisfied with that.

0:23:150:23:17

So I think you can take something away from every performance

0:23:170:23:20

like that in a way, which is a good thing,

0:23:200:23:22

but also it's a bit dangerous as well

0:23:220:23:25

because, you know, I don't like this attitude of,

0:23:250:23:27

"I had a bad race but it's a learning experience."

0:23:270:23:29

I think that's a very convenient excuse to a lot of people -

0:23:290:23:33

why it's a good reason to have bad performances when it's not.

0:23:330:23:36

'There is another threat and it comes from Spain.

0:23:360:23:40

'Javier Gomez has five world titles to his name

0:23:400:23:43

'and should the 2012 silver medallist triumph in Rio,

0:23:430:23:46

'he could claim to be the greatest of this great generation.

0:23:460:23:51

'But if Alistair can become the first triathlete in history

0:23:510:23:53

'to defend an Olympic title, then that crown is arguably his.'

0:23:530:23:58

Gomez from the outside looks like he's played it very sensibly,

0:23:580:24:01

"OK, I'm not going to be the best on a one-off occasion

0:24:010:24:04

"but I'm going to be consistent."

0:24:040:24:05

Whereas you love being the best on the big races.

0:24:050:24:09

Yeah, Gomez has done a very good job of being consistent,

0:24:090:24:12

there's no doubt about that.

0:24:120:24:13

It's a skill and, you know, he's absolutely nailed that skill

0:24:130:24:17

and done very, very well at it

0:24:170:24:18

and that's why he's won the world titles.

0:24:180:24:20

I had the choice to race like that and try and win world titles,

0:24:200:24:23

if I wanted, and trained differently and try and race differently.

0:24:230:24:26

So it's the choice I made and I think it's been quite closer

0:24:260:24:29

than it looked, you know,

0:24:290:24:30

just a few kind of unlucky little things and decisions I've made.

0:24:300:24:33

It could've been very different in terms of the world titles.

0:24:330:24:36

How does the rivalry with Gomez compare

0:24:360:24:38

to your rivalry with Jonny?

0:24:380:24:40

If indeed it is a rivalry with Jonny.

0:24:400:24:43

Well, I'd much prefer Jonny to beat me than Gomez to beat me.

0:24:430:24:47

I suppose that's the crunch of it.

0:24:470:24:49

And, yeah, I think at the end of the day when it's done, that's that,

0:24:490:24:52

and I want to beat both of them.

0:24:520:24:54

I'm actually probably a bit more worried about Jonny

0:24:540:24:56

on a day than I am about Gomez. Why's that?

0:24:560:24:59

I think Jonny's got the capability to have a really, really good day

0:24:590:25:02

but, you know, I suppose come to the Olympics,

0:25:020:25:05

yeah, I'd much preferred Jonny to beat me than I would Gomez.

0:25:050:25:08

What does it feel like, beating Alistair?

0:25:080:25:11

I've beaten Alistair a few times. In Hamburg 2013,

0:25:110:25:14

he'd tried to come round me with about 100 metres to go

0:25:140:25:16

and I knew that I was going to beat him then because he came,

0:25:160:25:19

he'd just got past me and I had quite a lot left so I thought,

0:25:190:25:21

"Right, see you later. I'm off now."

0:25:210:25:24

It's a sprint finish between the brothers.

0:25:240:25:26

It's going to be tight between them

0:25:260:25:28

but it's Jonathan's win!

0:25:280:25:30

A first reaction is, you know, "Wow, I've won,"

0:25:300:25:34

if I have won or had a great race

0:25:340:25:36

and the next reaction definitely is a bit,

0:25:360:25:39

"That was a bit weird. I've upset the norm.

0:25:390:25:41

"I shouldn't have beaten Alistair."

0:25:410:25:43

And some of that I really need to get over

0:25:430:25:46

because you kind of expect Alistair to win

0:25:460:25:48

and it means those days that we're equally as good as each other,

0:25:480:25:52

he's more likely to edge it cos he's going to expect a win.

0:25:520:25:55

And hopefully it's something that I've been able to change

0:25:550:25:57

in the last few years, is being able to expect to beat Alistair.

0:25:570:26:00

I mean, I'll maybe not expect to,

0:26:000:26:03

but not think of it as completely crazy if I do.

0:26:030:26:07

I think Jonny obviously aims to, um,

0:26:070:26:10

to be the main man in world triathlon.

0:26:100:26:14

It would be a major achievement, not just because his brother

0:26:140:26:18

is his brother, but because Alistair is the best there has ever been.

0:26:180:26:22

COMMENTATOR: 'He's coming home, he knows he's got it now,

0:26:220:26:24

'it has been an absolutely fabulous performance.'

0:26:240:26:27

'Alistair Brownlee is the Olympic triathlon champion!'

0:26:270:26:31

No male triathlete has ever retained their Olympic title, have they?

0:26:310:26:35

So, you could be the first.

0:26:350:26:37

And to have won two Olympic golds, for you, would just eliminate all

0:26:370:26:40

the World Championships in between, they'd be by the by, would they?

0:26:400:26:43

Yeah, absolutely.

0:26:430:26:44

I think, um, the one day in August this year makes the other

0:26:440:26:49

four years, um, a bit irrelevant, really.

0:26:490:26:53

That said, if Gomez wins it, then it becomes very relevant, doesn't it?

0:26:530:26:58

And you still fancy yourself as the best one-off racer, do you?

0:26:580:27:02

I like to think I'm still the best one-off racer,

0:27:020:27:04

um, but, yeah,

0:27:040:27:07

I'm not sure I've proved it or it's been tested in the last year or so.

0:27:070:27:10

But I think you've got to tell yourself that,

0:27:100:27:12

and, you know, I think if I can be in the shape

0:27:120:27:16

that I was in London, I think

0:27:160:27:17

I can be in position to win any kind of triathlon,

0:27:170:27:19

and I'd like to think I'd be better than that,

0:27:190:27:22

so, you've just got to keep telling yourself that and train towards it.

0:27:220:27:25

I think everybody needs to recognise that we're not just

0:27:250:27:28

talking about a couple of brothers from next door, we're talking about

0:27:280:27:31

the best triathletes there have ever been in the history of the sport.

0:27:310:27:35

Someone close to both of you told me once

0:27:380:27:40

that when the two of you have finished with triathlon,

0:27:400:27:42

one of you will be successful and one of you will be happy.

0:27:420:27:45

Which one do you think you were?

0:27:450:27:47

I think people would probably say that, um, I'd be successful,

0:27:470:27:50

because people would think that, like, I'd be driven

0:27:500:27:53

and I'd want to do something else.

0:27:530:27:54

If you ask him this question, he thinks he might be a history teacher

0:27:540:27:58

somewhere, but he'd be a useless teacher, I can't see him doing that!

0:27:580:28:01

I think I'd be the happy one.

0:28:010:28:03

I'll do what I want to do, whether it is teaching or still

0:28:030:28:06

involved in sport, and that'll keep me happy.

0:28:060:28:08

I can't see him not been involved in sport at some level, but I could see

0:28:080:28:12

that being coaching kids, you know, being on a track on a Tuesday night.

0:28:120:28:16

He really likes the idea that he's going to be able to make

0:28:160:28:19

lots of money, um, in stocks and shares or something.

0:28:190:28:22

Whether that leads to financial gain

0:28:220:28:24

or unhappiness or whatever, I don't know.

0:28:240:28:26

But he'll try his best at it.

0:28:260:28:28

Would you invest in him?

0:28:280:28:29

If he puts his own money in, I'd go with him.

0:28:290:28:31

But I'd only ever copy his investment,

0:28:310:28:33

so, I wouldn't let him do my money on his own.

0:28:330:28:36

Some days, I wake up and think, actually,

0:28:360:28:39

I'd love to do something else, you know,

0:28:390:28:41

something in business or a completely different career,

0:28:410:28:44

and prove that I could be successful at something else.

0:28:440:28:46

Other days, I wake up and think, "Nah!"

0:28:460:28:48

I could live a nice life where I ride my bike to a cafe every day

0:28:480:28:52

and not worry too much. So, who knows?

0:28:520:28:55

Alistair and Jonny Brownlee are the most loyal of friends and yet the toughest of rivals. They have the capability of bringing the best - and at times the worst - out of each other.

In Rio 2016, Alistair will be aiming to become the first triathlete to successfully defend their Olympic title, while younger brother Jonny's target is to improve on the bronze medal he earned at London 2012.

In the build-up to the Games, Tom Fordyce speaks to the brothers as he looks into what it is about their relationship that makes them so unique and their achievements so extraordinary.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS