Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State's Jonathan and Kevin Borlee, from Belgium, go from Olympic Games run to NCAA track and field championship meet.

Mere moments separated Florida State freshman sprinters Jonathan and Kevin Borlee at birth and little has changed for the identical twins from Brussels, Belgium.

They're still a breath apart … on the track, anyway.

"They do push each other," said coach Ken Harnden, who handles the Seminoles' sprinters and relay teams. "It's hard to hold them back in training."

"We are very competitive when we practice," said Kevin, the elder twin by all of five minutes, in an exchange of e-mails with the Times. "But it's very helpful to (our) progress."

The Borlee brothers, 21, who surged to international prominence competing in the 400 meters and the 4x400 relay in last summer's Olympic Games, look for national acclaim in America during the NCAA men's outdoor track and field championships, which begin today in Fayetteville, Ark.

Both have qualified for the NCAA finale in the 400, despite limited races, and figure to challenge Florida's Calvin Smith (44.96 seconds). Jonathan has the sixth-best time nationally, 45.34 seconds, and Kevin is seventh fastest at 45.51.

They join sophomore Kevin Williams and freshman Brandon O'Connor to form the 4x400 relay team to beat. With Kevin running the second leg and Jonathan the anchor, the FSU quartet ran an eye-popping 3:01.54 at the Penn Relays in April, the third-fastest time in the event's history.

Though injuries have compromised FSU's shot at a fourth straight national championship, the Borlees should give the Seminoles a shot to finish in the top four.

"They're pretty special guys," coach Bob Braman said.

The world learned that last summer.

In the Olympic final of the 4x400, Kevin's opening leg (45.43) put Belgium right behind the United States. He handed off to his brother who ran a blistering 43.62, the second-fastest split in the race. (U.S. anchor Jeremy Wariner clinched gold with a 43:18.) Belgium finished fifth.

"It was really amazing for a country like ours," Jonathan said. "I still have chills when I watch the race again."

In the 400, Kevin just missed making the finals with a personal-best 44.88, a Belgium national record. The country's second-best time? Well, Jonathan set that in his semifinal heat, 45.11.

Before coming to FSU, their coach had been their father, Jacques, who ran the 400 for Belgium in the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow, and has done a pretty good job training his children. (The Borlee boys' older sister Olivia, 23, won a silver medal as part of Belgium's 4x100 relay in Beijing.)

"When they called to tell me they were coming here," Harnden said, "I did cartwheels."

Though mastering English has been challenging, the Borlees have blended in quickly with their teammates. The surest sign of that came when they asked to race at the indoor championships in mid March, bucking the plan to wait until the outdoor season to compete.

With the "twins," as their FSU teammates call them, the Seminoles just missed winning the 4x400 relay. Baylor nipped them by less than a fifth of a second. That race showed what kind of impact the Borlees could have.

"We're expecting a step up and I'm sure they're expecting a step up," Braman said of their performance this week. "The 400 and 4x400 are tough assignments; the 400's the toughest event at the NCAA (this year), but they have done it on the big stage and you're hoping they'll come through and hit it big."

More colleges

basketball: Scottie Reynolds, the star point guard who in March led Villanova to its first Final Four appearance since the Wildcats won the 1985 national championship, announced Tuesday he will return for his final college season.

Army-Navy football: The Army-Navy game will be held in Philadelphia for five of the next eight years, beginning in 2010. The Naval Academy announced the game will be at Lincoln Financial Field in 2010, '12, '13, '15 and '17. Philadelphia has been the site of 81 of the 109 games.

Brian Landman can be reached at or (813) 226-3347. Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Florida State's Jonathan and Kevin Borlee, from Belgium, go from Olympic Games run to NCAA track and field championship meet. 06/09/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 9:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.