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Cheers ring out as golden boys shine in Games triathlon
They may have watched the opening ceremony at home with neighbours while eating a fish and chip supper, but now the eyes of the world are on the Brownlee brothers after they claimed Olympic glory.
Alistair and Jonny Brownlee wrote themselves into the history books this week with a pair of stunning performances to claim gold and bronze respectively in the men’s triathlon at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
And last night, friends queued up to praise the sporting siblings, who thrilled the country with their success on Tuesday lunchtime.
Neighbour Jan OddyWe’re just chuffed to bits for them
It was a far cry from how they watched the stunning opening ceremony at their home in Bramhope with neighbours Jan and Ray Oddy.
The Oddys enjoyed some unique ‘downtime’ with the talented brothers on the eve of the games by having fish and chips with them at their home.
The Oddys have got to know Alistair, 24, and Jonny, 22, well since they moved into the village some three years ago, and Mrs Oddy believes the brothers’ grounded attitude – which saw them opt to keep training near home rather than head straight to London for the opening night – has stood them in good stead.
She said: “We all had fish and chips at their home on the Olympics opening night because they’d stayed up here to keep up with their training and not get distracted. We had a lovely evening.
“We were watching Tuesday’s triathlon on TV, and our nerves were just absolutely shredded by the end of it because it’s two solid hours of competing. But we knew when they came out of the swim they were in just the position they wanted to be.
“Alistair did so well, and for Jonny to get a bronze, even with a 15-second penalty, is just incredible. We’re just chuffed to bits for them and can’t wait for them to come back and bring their medals.
“It would be good to have some kind of party for them. I hope we do. We were justified to leave the Union flags up in Bramhope after the Jubilee because we had two Olympians who would be competing, and they’ve done so well. And I know they’ve been very happy to get all the support from the village and see their names up.”
Elsewhere in Bramhope on Tuesday, a spontaneous three cheers for the Brownlee brothers signalled the climax of nearly two hours of engrossing viewing as dozens packed into the television room of The Fox and Hounds pub.
Many were confident before the event, and remained so until the last couple of laps of the 10km run as the brothers neared the finish line. Indeed, there were groans of dismay when Jonny dropped from the leading trio and then had to stop for a 15-second penalty for an earlier infringement.
But they turned to cheers as he returned to the circuit, still ahead of the fourth and fifth-placed athletes and managed to take bronze behind his brother.
Among those watching the drama was Bramhope and Carlton Parish Council chair-man, Denis Johnson, who said villagers are incredibly proud of the Brownlee brothers.
He added: “With the rankings making them one and two in the world, we were hopeful of a medal. We knew we couldn’t get two golds, but two medals is fantastic. We’ve been urging them on, and it’s been a tremendous feeling to experience.”
The Brownlees moved to Bramhope from their hometown of Horsforth, and the delight at their achievements was also shared there. Ward councillor, Brian Cleasby, said plans were afoot to name a new facility in the town in the Brownlees’ honour, though the details are still being confirmed.
He added: “The Brownlee boys are amazing, and it is right and proper their achievements are recognised locally, in Horsforth.
“They will be an inspiration to many of our young people who wish to aspire.”
John Burland, from Otley Methodist Church, was amongst the crowds in a packed Hyde Park cheering on the brothers, who can regularly be seen training around the area, especially at Otley Chevin.
“We saw all seven passes of the cycling and then moved across to watch the run, before legging it to the main bit of the park to see the finish on the big screen,” he said.
“The atmosphere was fanta-stic with lots of British flags – and some Yorkshire flags. To get a gold and bronze is fantastic.”
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, who has Bramhope in his constituency, was also at Hyde Park to watch the race.
He praised them for following on from Lizzie Armitstead, from Otley, who picked up silver in the women’s cycling road race.
“It is absolutely fantastic the incredible Brownlee brothers have, through their athleticism and Yorkshire grit, added to the medal tally for Team GB and for Leeds North West by picking up gold and bronze in the triathlon.
“It is awe-inspiring the way Alistair achieved his gold and the way Jonny achieved his bronze. The whole of the country, Yorkshire and Leeds should be extremely proud.”