Sporting heroes Alistair and Jonny Brownlee have captured the nation’s hearts, but most especially the hearts of their fellow Yorkshire folk. Victoria Benn asked Olympic gold medallist Alistair about Triathlon, Le Tour and the brothers’ training in the Dales.

You and Jonny have almost legendary status now, through being the first brothers to step on to the Olympic podium together since Queen Victoria was on the throne. How does this affect your life on a daily basis?

On the one hand we are lots busier, as we now have more commitments, especially for the media and sponsors etc, but at the core of our lives, nothing is any different.

We still get up at 6.30am and dive into the pool and spend most of our days training – which is just how we like it.

How much time per week do you spend training?

About 35 hours. We swim five times a week and run and ride every day.

What do you do when you’re not training?

Not much! We like to relax as much as possible and read, watch films and basically rest our bodies. We love the outdoors and love to walk, run and cycle. In the future, when the training isn’t as full-time, I hope there will be time for things like walking and getting back into cross-country running, which was something I loved to do when I was a junior competitor.

One of the things that people admire about you is that, despite all your success, you still stay close to your roots, and are well known for doing the majority of your training in and around Bramhope, Leeds and here in the Dales. Why is that important to you?

We have a great routine, great friends and a great support network at home – plus the facilities are excellent too.

As the organisers of Le Tour recognised, the cycling routes in the Dales are totally inspirational. We spend a lot of time riding in Wharfedale, particularly through Burnsall, Grassington and Kettlewell – we are there most days. Park Rash, which comes up and out of Kettlewell, is one of my favourite routes. Steep, but a brilliant training exercise and a great view when you get to the top.

Your sibling rivalry is well documented and has even been credited as the key to your and Jonny’s success, particularly in London 2012. Do you agree with this?

It’s definitely a major part of our success, as we do encourage and push each other every day in our training sessions. We also motivate each other – if one of us is feeling under par, training together is a good way of getting over that and getting focused.

The rivalry angle is possibly slightly overplayed though, as all competitors at our standard are fiercely competitive. Beating each other is certainly not the be all and end all, as we never lose sight of the fact that there’s another 70 people whom we also need to beat.

You are also well known as best friends, as well as best rivals. Does this mean that you are conscious of Jonny when you are racing? For example – Jonny’s 15-second penalty at London 2012. Were you aware of it and did it bother you?

Oh, yes. I knew it had happened. I was upset for him. I talked to him while we were cycling to try and give him a little bit of encouragement and support, to help him re-focus and put it behind him.

That’s something unique that we can do for each other as brothers in the same event – it’s not just about the rivalry, we support each other too.

Will you be around to watch Le Grand Depart? Are there any sections which you are particularly keen to see?

I am hoping to be here for it, and I am hoping I can get into the Dales to watch it from one of the hills up there. I’m a big fan of British cycling and will be cheering on Team Sky. The big climbs will be interesting for me, but I don’t think any of them are steep enough to make a significant difference to the leading contenders.

I hear the ankle is better now, so there will be hopes for a double victory at the Commonwealth Games this summer – do you think it’s possible you’ll both be on the podium together again?

My ankle is absolutely fine now, thank you. And, of course – gold and silver. That’s what we are always aiming for!

You have used your achievements and new Olympic status as a platform for raising awareness about Triathlon as a sport, encouraging new people into the sport and getting local schools involved in it. Why is this important to you?

We actually have three Junior Triathlons planned to go ahead in Yorkshire this year, as well as the Macmillan Brownlee Tri taking place at Harewood House in September.

We love Triathlon and we are particularly excited about the forthcoming Junior events. The sport has given us both so much, and if we can get just one child to feel the passion that we feel for Triathlon then it will all be worthwhile.

We are also keen to get the message across that it’s not just about winning. It’s about being fit, healthy and active, and finding a sport that you love to do.

Triathlon is growing in popularity all the time, but it is still a marginal sport, and we feel it’s important that we do our bit to make it more accessible for everybody, especially young people.

  • For more information about the forthcoming Brownlee Triathlons, visit