Top Ten: Sporting Siblings
Prompted by the selection of three brothers in the latest New Zealand rugby squad, Sports Gazette picks 10 of the best sporting siblings.
The news came last week that New Zealand have selected three brothers in their squad for the upcoming tour of Europe and the US. Beauden Barrett, one of the All Blacks’ outstanding performers in 2016, is joined by brothers Scott and Jordie who are both uncapped at international level.
The Barrett brothers’ success has prompted the Sports Gazette to look at other examples of successful sporting siblings. Here, in no particular order, are our top 10 picks:
1) Serena and Venus Williams
Not much needs to be said for the Williams sisters who are undoubtedly among the greatest-ever sporting siblings. Between them the Williams have won 29 Grand Slam singles titles, these coming among a monster 120 WTA singles victories. As doubles partners they have won a further 14 Grand Slam titles, and have never lost together in a major final. A combined 5 Olympics gold medals – two in singles and three in doubles – tops off the never-ending list. Their achievements are complemented by the way in which they both helped to revolutionise women’s tennis, arguably bringing the game further than any other before them.
2) Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko
While you may hear the word ‘boring’ flung around when describing the Klitschko brothers, the fact of the matter is that they are two of the most decorated heavyweight champions ever. Before losing his titles so unexpectedly to Tyson Fury last year, Wladimir was the second longest-reigning champion ever in the heavyweight division, with older brother Vitali coming in at eighth on that list. On top of their prodigious boxing talent, the brothers both hold PhDs, hence the nicknames Dr. Ironfist and Dr. Steelhammer. While Wladimir is looking to regain his lost titles, Vitali has now given up boxing to focus on his burgeoning political career, and has been Mayor of Kiev since 2014.
3) Alistair and Jonny Brownlee
The brothers from Leeds produced one of the moments of the Rio Olympics, a stunning one-two finish confirming their place as the pre-eminent triathletes of their generation. Alistair’s victory made him the first athlete to win two gold medals in the triathlon, while Jonny improved on his bronze from London 2012. A month later during the World Series finale, older brother Alistair stopped to carry Jonny over the finish line after he almost collapsed with exhaustion, showing the close bond that is shared between them despite the direct competition they find themselves in. With Alistair still only 28 and Jonny 26, the Brownlee domination of the triathlon may yet continue for years to come.
4) John and Jim Harbaugh
Super Bowl XLVII saw brothers face off as head coaches for the first time in Super Bowl history, with older brother John’s Baltimore Ravens overcoming Jim and the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. Since taking the reins at Baltimore in 2008, John has come to be seen as one of the best head coaches currently in the NFL. Jim had a long playing career at quarterback for several NFL teams before going into coaching. His successful stint with the 49ers ended in 2014, with him returning to his alma mater the University of Michigan in 2015.
5) Sam, Tom, Luke and George Burgess
The Burgess brothers made rugby league history in 2013 as all four of them turned out for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a victory against the Wests Tigers. It was the first time in over a century that four brothers had turned out for the same Australian team, and only the third time in history that four Englishmen have played for an Australian grade team. Sam Burgess switched codes to union in 2014, a high-profile move that led to his controversial selection for the World Cup in 2015. England’s disastrous group stage exit led Burgess back to league, recently being announced as England’s new captain.
6) Bob and Mike Bryan
Identical twins Bob and Mike Bryan are the most successful tennis doubles pairing of all time. They have won more professional games, matches, tournaments and Grand Slams than any other men’s doubles pairing, and also earned the most prize money for a doubles team ever. They have held the world no. 1 ranking for 438 weeks, including 139 weeks consecutively. The list of accolades for the Bryan brothers goes on forever. Despite a drop in form over the past couple of years, the Bryan’s are still playing and are looking to regain their form and place at tennis’ top table.
7) Valerie and Steven Adams
Two of the lesser-known sporting siblings, Steven and Valerie Adams have both risen to the top of their respective sports. Older sister Valerie is one of the greatest-ever female shot putters, winning two Olympic gold medals. She is also the first woman to win four consecutive individual titles at the World Athletics Championships. Brother Steven has become one of the NBA’s most recognisable players, with his distinctive long locks and facial hair. Picked 12th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2013 NBA draft, powerful centre Adams has gone on to become a regular starter for the Eastern Conference powerhouse. The siblings’ father has a total of 18 children, with Steven being the youngest.
8) Peyton and Eli Manning
The Manning brothers are considered to be two of the finest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. Older brother Peyton is seen to be the superior player, but the brothers are even in the most important category – Super Bowl wins. They hold two each, Peyton winning it with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 and the Denver Broncos in 2016, Eli winning both his titles with the New York Giants in 2008 and 2012. Peyton retired following his second Super Bowl win last year, while Eli is still playing for the Giants and looking to overtake his older and more famous brother with a third Super Bowl.
9) Reggie and Cheryl Miller
The brother-sister basketball duo have both been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, an achievement that doesn’t come around very often. Reggie is considered to be one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game, hitting 2,560 three-pointers over his career. When he retired in 2005 this was the most-ever, but it has since been beaten by fellow legend Ray Allen. Sister Cheryl is one of the most successful women’s players of all-time, leading the US team to victory in the 1984 Olympics before being forced into retirement by a knee injury. Both siblings have now moved successfully into broadcasting.
10) Steve and Mark Waugh
Twin brothers Steve and Mark Waugh took Australia to the peak of international cricket for years and years. Captain Steve oversaw the most successful period in Australia’s history, his team romping to a record 16 consecutive Test victories between 1999 and 2001. Both Waugh brothers played important roles in Australia’s eight consecutive Ashes series wins between 1989 and 2005. Steve is seen widely as one of the greatest captains ever, his ruthless leadership style leading to so much success for Australia. Younger brother Mark, while not as highly considered, is remembered as one of the most elegant batsman the game has ever seen.