A Queenstown bar boss has flown to Brazil to cheer on his brother as he fulfils a lifetime ambition to compete at the Olympics.
Simon Fanous, 28, says he couldn’t he prouder of his older brother Lawrence, who competed in the men’s triathlon for Jordan this morning (New Zealand time), finishing 46th.
Born to a Jordanian father and an English mother, the brothers grew up in Jordan before shifting to England at a young age.
Like Lawrence, Simon and their younger sister Georgina also competed in triathlons – “me and my sister both won under-age nationals in the UK”.
Simon was also on the same British youth relay triathlon team as 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Alistair Brownlee.
He gave away triathlon, however, when he went to university.
“I had the talent for the sport, and I did really well, but I didn’t train.”
Simon, who manages Barmuda, says he’s the opposite of his brother, these days - ”I’m more the party guy”.
Lawrence originally raced for Great Britain before switching to Jordan.
Simon says it’s a miracle his brother’s made these Olympics because he suffered an horrific training crash in South Africa about nine years ago.
He was hit by a car, shattered his femur and was out of the sport for 18 months, blowing his chance of competing at the 2012 Olympics.
“They said, ‘your career’s going to be ended’.”
Through determination, however, Lawrence, 30 - nicknamed ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ – has been chosen as the first Jordanian triathlete to compete at the Olympics.
He’s also, it’s thought, only the second-ever Arab triathlete to make the Games.
“There’s no one I know that’s tried and trained harder,” his younger brother says.
Though representing Jordan, he trains with a talent squad at England’s Loughborough University and is part of an international Egyptian-based pro racing team.
At Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, he’s aiming for a top-30 placing, Simon says.
“His swimming and biking are as good as anyone but [following his accident] he doesn’t look comfortable when he’s running.”
Simon last saw him racing at the ITU Triathlon World Cup in New Plymouth in April.
He says he briefly glimpsed his brother marching with the small Jordanian delegation at the Rio opening ceremony.
“I waited all day for three seconds, but that’s fine.”