Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee

Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee are the major British force when it comes to triathlon, enjoying success at a world and Olympic level in recent years.

They are now backing a Warburtons campaign that is aiming to get children outside and taking up more activities and sport.

We caught up with the brothers to chat about the new campaign, how the 2013 triathlon season has gone and reflecting on last summer’s Olympics.

- You have teamed up with Warburtons so can you tell me a bit about the campaign that you have got behind?

Alistair: We are partnering with Warburtons for a campaign around their half-and-half bread, which is the bread that is made from half-brown flour and half-white flour. The idea is that everyone really wants to eat white bread - we did as kids - but this half-and-half bread as the goodness of brown bread but tastes a bit like white bread.

Jonathan: Half term is coming up and it’s great to get kids outside and encourage kids that it is fun to be outside and you can go and do some great activities. We have got some ideas and activities for what kids can do outside such as climbing trees to mountain biking in the woods. So there are loads of fun things for them to do.

Alistair: The whole campaign is based around this half-and-half bread and the half terms and getting kids outside. There is an advert that is based around the relationship and competitiveness of two brothers. That has got us interested because we are two competitive brothers.

- This campaign is pledging to get kids active this half terms and you have put together a scrapbook that was inspired by the types of activities you did growing up so what did the pair of you do to keep active as children?

Alistair: We did absolutely anything and everything you could imagine, we were very active. We spent many of our holidays away at a holiday home that our parents have in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales. We would spend our time damming streams, building tree houses, running around, riding our bikes and playing cricket and football.

Jonathan: We would just do things on the spur of the moment: we would be walking along somewhere and find a stick and decide to start sword fights.

Alistair: I think that the love of the outdoors was really important to us, and it was something that we picked up from our parents. Enjoying being outdoors and being active has served us well and I think that it is the reason why we are here today doing sport.

- We are always hearing about the rise in obesity levels amongst children. So what do you think needs to be done to get kids more active? What do you think has stopped kids from being active?

Alistair: I think lots of things need to be done and can be done, but I do think that we are already seeing a big change. I think that the Olympics last year has helped a lot as well as having more sport in the media and on TV is great to inspire kids. I think campaigns like this one from Warburtons are great as well.

I think that the obesity problem is 90% to do with activity levels and the rest is to do with actual diet. Activities are the really important factor for me and that is why this Warburtons programme is a really good thing.

- Away from the campaign we saw the pair of you compete at the World Triathlon Grand Final in London a few weeks ago, so how would you sum up the race and the your entire season?

Jonathan: The season as a whole has been a pretty decent season. To be beaten in that grand final was tough: to miss out by just one second makes it really hard.

However, to compete again in London on the Olympic course was a great experience. To compete in front of thousands of people again was also great. It was a good really, but to come second was tough.

Alistair: It has been a tough year for me as I have been struggling with injuries and issues all year really. It was a shame that weekend that I had a bad ankle and really couldn’t compete properly. I am glad that this season is over now and I can concentrate on getting better.

- Alistair you did look to be struggling with an ankle injury, so how is that injury now? And how positive are you about getting yourself fit going forward?

Alistair: It has been really sore. I have a chance to take a step back and have a rest and give it time to heal. Time is going to be the most important thing. I am going to have a few scans on it, talk to a few doctors, and see what they say. I think that time will be the crucial thing really.

- You have already mentioned the crowds that turned out for the World Triathlon Grand Final, so how did you find racing in the middle of all that? How do you feel that the Olympics have impacted on how the British public come out and support our athletes?

Alistair: I think that they were fantastic. The crowds really make the Olympic experience last year, as the atmosphere and the noise were just incredible. None of us really knew what to expect this year but the crowds really did come out again: it wasn’t quite the Olympic crowd, but it wasn’t far off. It was probably one of the best triathlon crowds in the world, apart from the Olympics. It really does make the event for the athlete.

I was talking about the shift in people following sport and being inspired earlier, I think that the crowds are a really big part of that: you would not have got a crowd like that even two years ago. If more people are watching triathlon and following it then more people will be inspired by it and more people will go out and be active.

- It has been just over twelve months since the pair of you brought home a gold and bronze from the Olympics. So how would you sum up that Olympic experience now that you have had time to reflect?

Jonathan: The whole Olympic experience was incredible and the entire two weeks was just great for this country. The support that we got was amazing. To compete in front of all of those people who are chanting your name was just amazing. It was incredible.

The public got right behind us when we came back to Leeds. People still talk to us now and tell us how watching the Olympics makes them cry. The whole Olympic experience was incredible and just to be a part of it was amazing.

- You have mentioned already that you were very competitive and active and kids so how did you get into the sport of triathlon?

Alistair: My mum was quite into swimming and she would take us the local swimming club when I was about five or six. My dad did a bit of running and would take us out running. We were doing local cross-country races when we were a similar age.

I had an uncle who did triathlon and when I was about eight, I decided that I wanted a go, so my dad found a race in Nottingham: there wasn’t a huge amount of triathlon races for kids in those days. I went and did this race and that was it for me, I just wanted to do more and more.

- There is a competitive spirit between you so has that always been there as you were growing up? How much has that competitiveness helped both of you become better athletes?

Jonathan: That competitiveness has been really important over the years. We use to compete over everything, but that has taught us that we can race and we can compete. I think that we have learnt how to compete against each other and we have also learnt so much from competing against each other.

It also allows us to push ourselves. People get scared about competing against each other and are scared of failure but for us that has not been there. I have learnt so much from Alistair as well. Because he has beaten me I have been able to develop from that, and that has been very important for me.

- There will be kids who will have been inspired by what you have achieved in your sport and will want to give triathlon a go for themselves. So what advice would you give anyone who wants to get into the sport?

Alistair: It is a fun sport firstly; we have to get that across. It really is fun. Also triathlon had an image of being super hard and that you had to do long distance triathlon that take up to ten hours. However, that has changed completely and you don’t have to do that: you can just go to your local track and race.

Jonathan: In terms of practical advice I would say go and find a club. But if you can’t find a club get together with a group of friends that you can go out and do a bit of training with.

You do need people around you to compete with and to enjoy doing it with, which is really important. In terms of finding events, there are hundreds of triathlon events for kids that are held throughout the year, and they can all be found on the British triathlon website.

- Finally, what's next for you?

Jonathan: We are going to take some time away from the sport for a little while and go on holiday. We spend a lot of time training and when we are training hard, we don’t have time to do other things - I am looking forward to doing simple things like tidy my house. It doesn’t seem very exciting but I don’t normally have time to do it. I just want to enjoy myself.

The Brownlee brothers are ambassadors for Warburtons Half & Half range - helping parents smuggle goodness into family life. Visit their Scrapbook at for half-term inspiration

by for
find me on and follow me on