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Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Monday, 26 July 2010 10:55 UK
Borlées aim to make 2012 a family outing


What happens when sporting twins go head to head?

By Heidi Van de Velde
BBC's Brussels bureau

Coach Jacques Borlée teases his 22-year-old son Jonathan about the odds of him staying ahead of Usain Bolt in the 300m race in Ostrava. Realistic and relaxed. It sums up Jonathan Borlée's attitude to life and to his career as a 400m sprinter.

In the hotel breakfast room a few hours earlier, I was surprised to see Belgium's fastest man move around in what seemed almost like slow motion. It's only later, on the training track, that I realise what kind of an explosion that pent up energy can release.

Region: Belgium
Born: 1988 and 1986
Discipline: Athletics
Career highlights: Kevin won gold in the 400m at the 2010 European Championships. Jonathan and Kevin won silver in the 4x400m relay at the 2010 World Indoor Championships. Olivia won silver in the 4x100m relay at the Beijing Olympics 2008

One second he is strutting around the track with his iPod earbuds in, the next he suddenly develops amazing power and speed over a stretch the length of a football field. 'Man is movement' is Jacques' slogan and his son seems to have turned it into both an art form and a way of life.

The non-traditional 300m race is only his first this year. He comes third after a slow start but easily breaks the Belgian record. He is happy with the result but also keen to scan our footage to find any way to improve his technique.

Soon after we met, Jonathan asked about the internet speed in my hotel room. His connection was not fast enough to view the live stream of his identical twin Kevin competing in the USA at midnight and he wondered whether he could watch it in my room.

It is telling that he seems more concerned about his brother's race than about his own later that day against Bolt. But it is a measure of the bond between them and the rest of this athletic family.

Olivia Borlee
Olivia Borlee at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin

The usually shy young man becomes passionate during the interview as he talks about how he loves every moment of his training sessions with his brother and sister under their father's coaching.

Jonathan explains how, despite both his parents being former sprinters, it was his elder sister Olivia who inspired him to take up track after he saw her perform and how Kevin pushes him to improve his performance as they are equally strong and fast.

When I ask Olivia and Kevin a few weeks later who inspires them to keep pushing their limits day after day, they immediately credit their siblings too. It is clear that the family bond is a major element in their success.

At the press briefing to launch the Borlée clothing line manufactured by Belgian fashion company JBC, their father jokingly refers to his children as the "Jacques Borlée Corporation".

Kevin Borlee
BBC World Class is a project to unite schools around the world through World Olympic Dreams

The line sports slogans such as "no limits", "pure winner", '0% epo, 100% eco' and "all good things come in three".

The CEO will confess that they have chosen Olivia, Jonathan and Kevin to represent them because they are a family, as well as currently Belgium's best athletes.

Unusually, that same day, 24-year old Olivia is the only Borlée face behind the Spirit-Run, a sports event where she personally encourages women and girls to take up running with a professional warm-up session.

These three young athletes are Belgium's hope for the London Olympics. Among the assembled press corps no one disagrees that they are the perfect ambassadors for the country.

We will be following the progress of a selection of athletes and we would like to hear from you.

What would you like to ask about Jonathan's build-up to the Olympics? Has he faced any pressure from his family of athletes to compete? What are his hopes? Send us your questions for Jonathan using the form below.

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see also
'Wrong' Borlée wins European Championship
11 Aug 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Johnson on Borlée twins rivalry
03 Aug 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Olivia Borlée dreams of competing at London Olympics
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Kevin Borlée going for gold
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Jonathan Borlee must beat twin to win gold in 2012
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Are sporting twins made equal?
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams

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