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NEWS FEATURE Four siblings head to Rio dreaming of medals, but hobbled by injury By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, dpa

Europe
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Belgium‘s Borlee family is no stranger to the Olympics, but Rio will mark the first time that siblings Olivia, Jonathan, Kevin and Dylan all attend. Their hopes for an athletics medal are high, but a challenging road lies ahead.

Brussels (dpa) - For Belgium‘s Borlee family, Rio de Janeiro will be a dream come true: four brothers and sisters all hitting the running track in hopes of achieving Olympic glory.

"Even four years ago, we couldn‘t say that all four of us will be there. It was an ambition, a desire, but we still had to achieve it," Kevin Borlee told the broadcaster VRT this week. "Now it‘s official, so it‘s great, it‘s really pleasing."

The 28-year-old is a 400 metres and 4x400m runner along with his twin brother Jonathan, who also qualified for the 200m. Their 23-year-old brother Dylan and 30-year-old sister Olivia will compete in 4x400m relay races too.

"Together we run faster," the family‘s website proclaims. But the road in Rio will be a rocky one, with Kevin suffering from bursitis in his right foot and Jonathan not yet in top form. Olivia and Dylan have also struggled with thigh pain and injury.

"Let‘s imagine that I would stop now, then in three weeks it would be taken care of," Kevin said of his foot injury. "But the problem is that I can‘t stop ... We‘re trying to sort out the problem with anti-inflammatories, but it really, really hurts."

His father and coach, former Belgian running champion Jacques Borlee, was more optimistic.

"He got an injection in his tendon. So Kevin is keeping it calm at the moment. But he should be fine in two days," he told VRT.

Kevin said he has not been training on the track since the European athletics championships in Amsterdam in early July, although he has run races in Monaco and in Belgium, where he clocked in at 45.36 seconds and 45.60 in the 400m. His personal best is 44.56.

Olivia, meanwhile, told the Belgian newspaper L‘Avenir that she no longer was having thigh pain.

"After a less intense week, I am training completely normally," she said.

Jonathan told the newspaper that he for his part was recovering "fluidity," but that he was leaving to Brazil with "some question marks."

The three Borlee brothers had made history at the 2013 Moscow world championships by being the first three siblings to ever compete together in the same race.

Two years later, at the Beijing world championships, the trio teamed up with Antoine Gillet to lower the national 4x400m record to 2 minutes 59.28.

It is the race in which they also hope to shine in Rio. They are gunning for 2 minutes 58 seconds in the relays, which could land them in the top three, Jacques said.

He put the chance of a medal at 20 per cent, with the line-up including tough competitors such as the United States and Jamaica.

"There are a lot of countries that are fast, but it is tactical. There are scrums and we will elbow our way through to go for a big finish," Kevin said. "Of course, a medal would be wonderful."

It would be the first for the brothers, but not in the Belgian athletics family fairytale.

Olivia won silver in the 4x100m at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Jonathan has said that it was her earlier running success that inspired him to take up the sport. The Borlees‘ mother, Edith Demaertlaere, was also a national running champion.

Olivia‘s 2016 comeback is "admirable" after years of pain and medical interventions on her Achilles tendons, Belgian sports journalist Philippe Vande Weyer wrote in a blog for the newspaper Le Soir.

"The success of my brothers pushed me not to let go," she said after qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

Medals will, however, not be the only priority in Brazil.

"Enjoying it together is most important," Jacques said. "It is a great experience for a father. It is very special. It gives me a lot of goosebumps."

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