Harrogate brothers taking sporting rivalry to new levels in opposite directions

Axel Brown is bidding to make the Winter Olympics for Team GB
Axel Brown is bidding to make the Winter Olympics for Team GB

Harrogate sporting brothers Axel and Mika Brown are shining on an international stage, in a complete reversal of sporting types.

Axel’s career is going downhill – but that’s exactly the way he wants it.

Mika Brown

Mika Brown

Not every sports enthusiast would dream about hurtling down a slope at breakneck speed, but Brown is aiming to be part of Team GB’s bobsleigh squad for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The 23-year-old made his competitive debut down the slopes for Britain at the end of last month and he is hoping it will act as a springboard for further glories.

Brown said: “The first of my goals was always to race, and thus compete for Great Britain as opposed to just representing them.

“It’s the first goal on my ladder of things I want to achieve within the sport, culminating with competing in the Olympics so its onwards and upwards from here.”

Great Britain has a strong history of competing in the bobsleigh events at the Winter Olympics but have not won a medal in the event since 1998.

Brown has been training in the national set-up at Bath for almost two years alongside Olympic gold medal winner Mark Lewis-Francis and fellow sprinters Joel Fearon and Tremayne Gilling who are all challenging for a spot in the four-man bob after switching sports from athletics.

With such speed in the ranks, the former Harrogate Grammar School pupil has had to wait patiently for a chance– with quicker team members preferred at the European circuit events in St Moritz and Koniggsee.

But Brown finally got his chance to impress at the Europa Cup event in Igls, Austria last month.

And despite his quartet – piloted by fellow novice Brad Hall – only finishing 24th of the 27 teams, for now, he is just happy to have been given an opportunity to hurtle down the slopes.

Brown said: “My nerves were high as I didn’t know what to expect from the race, but it really was a great experience.

“On the start line I took a moment and said to myself ‘this is what you’ve worked for’ as it’s been 20 months since I first tried out.”

“So although the result wasn’t exactly what we wanted, I am still so happy that I managed to race.”

While Axel was cruising down the slopes, his 21-year-old brother Mika has been progressing in a completely different setting.

Mika has been mastering the three disciplines of triathlon and at the end of last month he claimed a gold medal at Active Tri series event in Australia.

In a high quality field, Mika won the 20-24 age group in the sprint race– setting the eighth fastest time of all of the competitors.

The victory is a perfect start to Mika’s bid to reach the 2016 World Championships, which will take place in Mexico.

The former U20s national champion said: “It was a really promising outing for my first race here in Australia.

“I had the quickest swim out of everybody that raced by over 20 seconds, and had the quickest cycles and run for people my age so it was good all over.

“I am doing another race at the end of February in one of the national series so that will be a much higher standard and a tough race.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge.”