Chamber member, Professional Sport Group are helping Olympic and commonwealth champions Alistair and Jonny Brownlee spread the word about Brownlee Tri taking place on 26th September, including The Corporate Challenge. We took the opportunity to ask them a few questions to learn a few secrets to their success.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE SPORT?
JB: It was just another sport to have a go at when we were young. Mum was a swimmer and Dad used to run, and we were always outside at the weekends, so as a family we were very active. I played rugby and cricket at Bradford Grammar School as well as running cross country with Alistair. Uncle Simon gets the credit because he did Ironman Lanzarote which Raised the interest levels.
Youngest brother, Ed, Swam as well, but he was also a good rugby player so hasn’t followed us into triathlon, contrary to what some TV commentators have suggested. One of the reasons we wanted to write our autobiography (Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon story) at such a young age was to emphasise that there are, as I’m sure a few top sports men and women will agree, a few twists and turns on the way and a decent amount of luck.
DO YOU THINK THERE ARE ANY COMPARISONS TO BEING AN ELITE ATHLETE AND RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS?
AB: Yes I do, many. Having a clear direction of where the business is going – we have the Rio Olympics in August 2016 to focus on. Consistency of performance – we stand on a start line knowing we have prepared with the quantity and quality of training that will enable us to perform to the best of our ability. Good decision making – we have built up a good base of knowledge but if there is something more we need, we get the best advice possible and then make our decision, often with input from our coaching team, To name but three.
YOU HAVE CREATED AND GROWN A STRONG BRAND UNDER THE BROWNLEE BROTHERS NAME. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR STRATEGY AND WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL?
AB: I think one of the most important things to say is that it has been very natural. We are both very quick to acknowledge that having each other has been so important to how well we have done. We race in a similar way, with similar strengths, so our success has been intertwined, although I’m a couple of years older than Jonny. Its not a forced or manufactured concept.
Highlights like being the first brothers on an Olympic podium, and a home Olympics at that, in an individual sport since 1908 obviously help, and although we have different views on it now, being able to call your brother a tactical numpty on live television only reinforces the relationship!
IN THE EARLY DAYS IF YOU EVER FELT LIKE GIVING UP, WHAT DID YOU USE AS MOTIVATION TO KEEP GOING?
JB: That’s the beauty of an older brother. There definitely was a time when I wasn’t enjoying swimming at all; I’d use every excuse under the sun to avoid it. And at one time I thought I wanted to be a footballer, not a triathlete. But I think enjoyment is the crucial word. We enjoy what we do. We don’t see it as a job and to be successful in sport you really have to enjoy what you’re doing. That was a theme from when we started out, enjoy it.
It does work both ways, however, because I know me getting up for our early morning swim used to get Alistair up – he couldn’t have his younger brother getting ahead of him.
WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
AB: We have admired lost of cyclists and runners through the years but wouldn’t say there was one in particular that was an inspiration.
IF YOU WERE NOT PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES, WHAT WOULD YOUR CHOICE OF CAREER BE?
JB: We get asked this a lot and I have never heard Alistair come up with a definitive answer. He did a term reading medicine at Cambridge so he always said he would probably have been a doctor, like Mum and Dad. I think I would have been a teacher. Its easy to say though because we have never had to make the decision. During university we both started to make some money from triathlon and haven’t looked back.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT THAT THE BROWNLEE TRI CAN DO FOR BUSINESS IN W&NY?
AB: Offer a bit of healthy competition by entering and competing in the Brownlee Tri Corporate Challenge! The Corporate Challenge allows teams of three to work together, show great commitment and team spirit to win the title of being the fittest business in W&NY. And if you don’t think you will challenge the leader board, a team can always raise money for their own charity or event charity partner Macmillan.
WHAT ONE THING DO YOU THINK SEPARATES WINNERS FROM EVERYONE ELSE?
AB: A little bit of luck.
JB: A ‘win at all costs’ attitude.
Brownlee Triathlon 26th September 2015, Harewood House, Leeds. Join the Corporate Challenge!
Article supplied by the West & North Yorkshire Chamber Business Magazine – Summer 2015.