Mr Kingham and Mr Simpson by Alistair and Johnny Brownlee

The Olympian triathlete brothers turned up to school in Lycra, ready to learn
25th August 2017, 12:00am
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Mr Kingham and Mr Simpson by Alistair and Johnny Brownlee

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/mr-kingham-and-mr-simpson-alistair-and-johnny-brownlee

Alistair Brownlee: Mr Kingham taught me French and Spanish at Bradford Grammar School and was also in charge of the cross-country team.

He had a system where anyone who wanted to could go running at lunchtime. We’d do different runs each day and I’d run with the older lads and members of staff. In winter, we’d meet up pretty much every Saturday for a different school event or race. He’d given up every lunchtime and every Saturday for running for the best part of 30 years.

Had I not been able to expend a bit of energy at lunchtime, I would have been an absolute nightmare. I think I would have really struggled. I just couldn’t sit still. I was always told I had ants in my pants. Although I wasn’t a natural academic, if I’d exercised, I could focus better. I wasn’t big on modern languages and I was no good at French, but thanks to him I got an A* in my GCSE. He got the best out of me.

I’d be in class in the morning thinking of running and going somewhere different. At lunchtime I could throw my running shoes on, leave the school grounds and go and explore. Because of Mr Kingham, I’ve always associated running with that kind of freedom.

He provided opportunity and removed barriers, so if I wanted to run every day I could, and running became part of my life and part of my routine. It was a massive influence on my future career.

I still see him a bit now. He knows I credit him with a lot but I’ve never sat down and said: “Thank you for everything you did.” We northerners probably wouldn’t say that to each other.

Jonny Brownlee: Mr Simpson was my form teacher when I was 13 and 14. He taught me history, which was my favourite subject, as well as Spanish. I liked him because we were getting to the age when we were starting to rebel and he said: “Lads, just do your homework, don’t get detention and make your life easier.” It made sense to me.

I was a good kid for two reasons. First, my parents were always on at me to work hard and second, I didn’t see the point of [not being good]. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it properly. For me, it was easier to get my homework done in 20 minutes than get told off for 20 minutes and miss going out for a run at lunchtime or playing football with my mates because I was in detention.

Mr Simpson made studying enjoyable. Every month, he’d have what he called a “Brucie Bonus”. If you did well in something, you’d be entered into a prize draw. He was really into cycling so a lot of the prizes were from the Tour de France. I don’t think I ever won, but I always liked the idea.

Alistair and I were known as being sporty. We used to turn up in Lycra, having cycled 10 miles to school. As we got older, we missed school because of sport. I’d ask the teachers for the work beforehand and they knew when I was back in class I’d work hard and catch up, so they weren’t too bothered.

Mr Simpson used to tell us how lucky we were to go to a good school like Bradford Grammar, and he was right. I like going back and giving talks. They named the sports pavilion after us, which was brilliant.

Alistair and Jonny Brownlee were talking to Kate Bohdanowicz. They fronted the Yorkshire Tea ‘Deliverbrew’ campaign, and Yorkshire Tea is proud to be partnering with the Brownlee brothers as the official sponsor of their water bottles

 

Brothers in arms

Alistair and Jonny Brownlee

Born: Alistair - 23 April 1988, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire; Jonny - 30 April 1990, Bramhope, West Yorkshire

Education: Richmond House Prep School, Leeds; Bradford Grammar Junior School; Bradford Grammar; University of Leeds; University of Cambridge (Alistair only)

Career: Alistair - Olympic gold medal triathlete 2012, 2016, two-time triathlete world champion;

Jonny - world sprint triathlon champion and Olympic silver medallist, 2016

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