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Page last updated at 22:42 GMT, Wednesday, 11 August 2010 23:42 UK

'Wrong' Borlée twin wins European Championship

Men's 400m final

Kevin Borlee wins 400m gold at the European Championships with a late surge. (Available to UK users only).

By Heidi Van de Velde
BBC's Brussels bureau

Belgium celebrated its first gold medal won by a man for 39 years at the European Championships in Barcelona.

But, unexpectedly, it was Kevin Borlée who ran off with the medal while his identical twin Jonathan was the favourite to win the 400m final at the Montjuic Stadium.

It was the first time the brothers have competed in the same final of a major championship, Kevin as underdog and Jonathan as the man to beat after running the fastest time in the earlier rounds and breaking the Belgian record in the process.

But while everyone was focusing on Jonathan and the Brit Martyn Rooney, Kevin came out of nowhere to finish half a metre ahead of the competition.

Kevin and Jonathan Borlee

After an initial explosion of joy he admitted he felt sorry for his brother. "Jo deserved to win this, more than me, he's been dominating the whole season, in the semi-finals here he was faster than anyone else, including me. He is the fastest man in Europe. I am a bit sad for him."

Jonathan finished seventh in a disappointing time, but admits he "just didn't have the legs".

"I wanted to win, I was full of confidence, my strategy was the right one, but my legs just failed me. I am 5% disappointed but 95% happy that Kevin won," he says.

He points out that he's always believed Kevin was capable of turning it on in the big competitions.

"His times may have not been the best, but the more that was being pointed out to him, the more he wanted to prove everyone wrong and show that he was in great shape. He can now enjoy his title for two years."

Kevin agrees there was less pressure on him than on his brother to win the final.

It is hard to express how I feel; at the same time I saw Kevin excel and Jonathan break
Jacques Borlee, father of the twins

"I ran my own race, I didn't have to prove myself to the world or the press like Jonathan. I stuck to my plan, focused only on me and gave everything I had in me in the last straight line. I only realised I was going to win 10m before the finish line."

Jacques Borlée, their father and trainer, found his emotions after the race hard to balance. "It is hard to express how I feel. At the same time I saw Kevin excel and Jonathan break.

"Of course I was wondering what was happening. So yes, I am incredibly happy but also disappointed, which is perfectly understandable."

He blames Jonathan's poor performance on the race schedule: "Kevin has a bigger engine than Jonathan and can deal better with the number of races."

To save energy, Jonathan didn't run in the 4x400m relay semi-final but was the last runner in the final on Sunday, in which the Belgian team won bronze.

Kevin ran a very strong third leg despite a congested field and Jonathan started the final leg at high speed but faded in the last 100m.

"I again didn't have any energy left" he admits disappointedly. "I am paying the price for interrupting my training sessions in April and May."

Jacques puts things into perspective, saying he's seldom seen such a competitive 4x400m relay final.

"Even at the Olympics there was less fighting. The boys made a few mistakes, but that is because they really gave it their all. They ran with immense will power and that is what is most important."

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see also
Borlée v Borlée
22 Sep 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Johnson on Borlée twins rivalry
03 Aug 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
Olivia Borlée dreams of competing at London Olympics
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams
Are sporting twins made equal?
26 Jul 10 |  World Olympic Dreams

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