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Olympic sister act leave rivalry behind
By Liam Fitzgibbon
12:31 AEST Fri Jul 20 2012

By her own admission Cate Campbell was a lazy kid, but there was one thing she wasn't going to sit back and let happen.

Repeatedly being shown up by her little sister.

Swimmers Cate, 20, and Bronte, 18, are preparing become the first siblings to swim for Australia at an Olympics since Neil and Greg Rogers and Narelle and Karen Moras competed at Munich in 1972.

And while Cate has the prior Olympic experience and seemingly stronger medal chances in London, she hasn't always been the brighter prospect.

When they started swimming in Brisbane, having moved to Australia from Malawi in 2001, it was seven-year-old Bronte who was the child star.

And didn't she know it.

"I was a whole heap better than Cate was. I went to all these competitions and got all these trophies and medals, and I was a horrible little sister," Bronte recalled in the Australian team camp.

"I used to gloat all the time and wear the medals around my neck and walk around the house, until Cate took them and hid them under her bed. She got a little sick of that."

The taunts were clearly not lost on her big sister.

"I think that was the moment I discovered my competitive spirit," Cate said.

"I will admit, I was a terrible trainer.

"I was a really lazy kid and it was Bronte who would wake me up in the morning and go to training early and sit and watch the older group train and try to take in some tips from them. I would be there grumbling and complaining.

"But after she began to reap the rewards of her labour, it definitely kindled a fire and I decided if I wanted to be as good as her, I had to train as well as her."

Fast forward 11 years and the competitiveness between the pair has been replaced by joy at getting the chance to share an Olympic experience.

In roles reversed from those younger days, Cate feels she can now act as inspiration and mentor by passing on her experience from Beijing four years ago, where she claimed bronze medals in the 50m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay.

"I've definitely shared a few stories (with Bronte)," Cate said.

"Some encouraging, some maybe not so much, but it's going to be great."

The pair will compete together in the 50m freestyle in London but it won't be a race between them.

"I'd like to think we are competing together against everyone else," Bronte said.

The real battle within the Campbell family could be fought outside of the pool.

With their parents, grandparents, three other siblings and cousins from the UK, New Zealand and Canada coming to watch, tickets will be at a premium.

"I think they're on a rotation system," Cate said.

"I'm not actually sure how many tickets we have or who's going to have them."

Cate and Bronte plan to stay out of it and save their energy for their swimming, understandably given the battles both have faced in recent years with illness.

Cate battled glandular fever and post-viral fatigue in 2010 and says she would have quit the sport if not for the support of Bronte, who suffered similar health problems.

Together, they went through hell.

So there'll be no taunting, no gloating and no medals hidden under the bed in London.

Only an appreciation of the unique situation they find themselves in and the knowledge that no matter what hurdles they face, they're in it together.

"Every Olympics will be such a different experience so it's great to create a whole new set of stories and memories with someone I'm so close to," Cate said.

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