14 Jan

Learn To Love It

Alistair Brownlee

In my job as a sports journalist (writes Chris Broadbent), one of the great privileges is actually meeting some of the UK's and indeed, the world's greatest sportsmen and sportswomen.

As well as writing for southernrunningguide.com and reporting on the regional running scene, my role has taken me to Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and multiple European and World Championships.

Often when interviewing an athlete, journalists will spend their time probing to find out what makes that person so unique, almost as if they are a freak. Sometimes the writer has success, Usain Bolt's incredible stride length and Ian Thorpe's enormous feet spring to mind.

But more often that not, winners are actually quite normal people. In my experience, most are not freaks of nature with massive physical advantages. Quite simply, they just love what they do and that means they train often and they train hard.

The perfect examples were presented to me as interviewees the other week at the launch of BMW London 2012 Performance Team in Greenwich. Yorkshire brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee are the two of the finest triathletes in the world at the moment.

If you bumped into them on the street, you wouldn't believe they were at the very elite end of one of the world's most challenging sports. They have no bulging muscles or square jawlines to speak of, they are two of the most regular lads you could ever wish to meet.

On the same day, I also met diving superstar Tom Daley, sprinter Mark Lewis Francis and Olympic gymnastics medallist Louis Smith, but as a distance runner myself, I was most looking forward to meeting the endurance specialists the Brownlees

I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss running and my own passion for it with two people who are amongst the best in the world. What I soon learned though was that no matter how much I love running, I'm no match for these two. It's also probably the reason why the rest of the world is struggling to keep up with the pair of them.

Alastair, the older brother and 2009 world champion, told me: "I have been doing competitive sport since I was 8 years old. In triathlon since I was 10. I have swam, cycled, swim and run for the vast majority of my life. It's what I love.

"I think how awful would it be to have an office job. Even when it's freezing outside, my hands are white, my feet are white, my face is absolutely destroyed to pieces, I am like 'this is so much better than doing anything else.' It really is what I love doing, you are out on those hills on the moors, what else could I be doing that's better than that?'"

There is little I can learn from Usain Bolt or Ian Thorpe, I will never be able to do what they do. I won't be able to do what the Brownlees do either. But by listening to Alastair and Jonathan Brownlee I can be better. Their message is to love what you do and if you do that, you'll be better at it. I think we can all learn something from that.