European 400m champion Kevin Borlée has been crowned the best Belgian male athlete of 2010 at the Golden Spike awards in Brussels.
The award recognises Kevin’s performance at last year’s European Championships in Barcelona where he unexpectedly secured the 400m title ahead of the favourite, his brother Jonathan.
Jonathan, who is Kevin’s identical twin, had to settle for a Silver Spike.
Together, the twins won bronze in the 4x400m relay at the European Championships and earlier in the year, the pair were part of Belgium’s relay team that won silver at the World Indoor Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Kevin Borlée claims life hasn’t changed since he displaced his brother for the 400m European title but the pair’s performances in 2010 and their increasing popularity have attracted the attention of sponsors.
They now have 12 commercial partners who can help them in their training and competition schedules ahead of the London Olympics in 2012.
The brothers and their sister Olivia, who won 4x100m silver at the Beijing Olympics, are now sponsored by a German brand of luxury cars. This has allowed them to trade their small shared Smart car for black BMW X3s.
The Borlées returned from South Africa last week after an intense training programme; 45 sessions in 33 days. Naturally, they refer to the time spent in Stellenbosch as “five weeks in paradise”.
Before the award ceremony they explained that the training sessions – where they are surrounded by international athletes from several disciplines – inspire and encourage them, and give them the ideal preparation to aim high in the coming season.
Kevin and Jonathan are going for gold with the 4x400m relay team at March’s European Indoor Championships in Paris but they will not compete in the individual 400m.
Their trainer, and father, Jacques Borlée doesn’t believe they are ready to digest those two physically very demanding races in one year.
“Three races in three days with a relay final on top, would be too intense. The season is long and the focus is on the World Championships in Korea in summer,” he said.
“Let’s not forget they are only 22 years old and still need to develop strength and body. We don’t want to blow up the engine.”
It is clear that they are eager, confident and ready. And in their own words “blessed” because of all the opportunities and support they receive.
Kevin and Jonathan will compete in the 600m at the Flanders Indoor Meeting in Ghent on the 13th February and the brothers are confident of breaking the 600m indoor world record.
As evidence of their emerging marketability, a Belgian phone company has promised that all proceeds from people texting the word “record” to a specific number will be donated to a children’s hospital.