He ain’t heavy, he’s a Brownlee


I’m not the only one who welled up at the marvellous sight of Olympic triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee helping his “wobbly” brother Jonny over the line after the latter almost collapsed metres from the finishing line of a triathlon in Mexico at the weekend.

If ever there was an example of both brotherly love and fantastic sportsmanship, it was summed up in the image of a clearly disorientated Jonny with his arm firmly around big brother’s arm neck guiding him home.

But for me the aftermath was even better when the bantering brothers – whose talent and skill levels at a sport that saps both physical and emotional strength defy belief – downplayed events with such humour and affection that it made me actually laugh out loud.

Anyone who has a brother or sister will know that sibling rivalry is real.

Every time you’re good at something or something good happens to you, the person or persons guaranteed to bring you straight back down to earth with a snide remark or, worse, a dead arm, is your nearest and dearest.

And you return the favour – with bells on.

Woe betide anyone else doing something similar, though. That’s when that familial solidarity, honed by years of fighting each other but uniting against mum and dad or any other common foe, kicks in.

The Brownlee brothers are extraordinary athletes. Olympic champions. World champions. And they’re competing in the same event, big brother vs. wee brother.

What keeps their competitive natures from spilling over into animosity or resentment is the sibling bond shown up so vividly in that post-event interview: “Flippin’ idiot” said Alistair of Jonny.

That clip of Alistair hauling Jonny to his feet and virtually dragging him over the line should be shown on a loop to this jaded, cynical nation of ours until we finally accept and embrace that every so often we all need someone’s arm around our shoulder.

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