Talent all in de Boer family as runner Chris, Docker Matt hit heights
The de Boer household is like a sporting talent conveyor belt, and after rolling out Dockers workhorse Matt, brother Chris is now on the verge of achieving his dreams, albeit under a far dimmer spotlight.
Matt, who burst to prominence after being selected by Fremantle at No.19 in the 2009 AFL Rookie Draft, is set to be followed on to the elite stage by 800m runner Chris, who after being cruelled by injury in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics, is set to make a charge on next year’s world athletics titles in South Korea.
The high-performing pair said the competitive environment of four brothers with two phys ed teachers for parents created a sibling rivalry that helped propel them to the top of their games – with plenty of ribbing along the way.
“We’re all pretty sporty (including other brothers Scott and Mitch) and having a park across the road, there was always some sort of race or we were kicking the footy,” Chris, 26, said before joking: “Out of all of us, (Matt) was probably the slowest and the worst kick, but I guess it doesn’t really mean you don’t make it.”
In the same year that Matt made the difficult choice to put school and home ahead of nominating for the 2007 draft, Chris experienced a breakout period where his personal best began a rapid five-second lift to reach the competitive 1min48.23sec – the fastest time by a West Australian in almost a decade and one that launched him into contention for a Beijing berth. The brothers hit the training track together and Matt, who played a pivotal role in the Dockers’ elimination final against the Hawks yesterday, was full of praise for his older sibling.
“I always looked up to him and I just tried to match him,” Matt said.
“Before I got drafted, he got me down at McGillivray Oval doing a bit of sprint training which he knew would help me in the long run, and even now in the season I’ll go for runs with him.”
Chris, once a handy footballer himself with Claremont colts, was frustrated by hamstring injuries late last year which ruled him out of an intended Commonwealth Games bid.
But he has now set his sights on the 2011 Australian titles where he hopes to make a tilt at the world championships.
“The qualifying is more strict (for world titles) than the Olympics because each country can send a few more people … that’s going to be an aim,” Chris said.
Matt’s career lies at home in the west for at least another two years after he agreed this week to extend his stay at the Dockers to the end of 2012. And despite the rigorous AFL regime, the courageous midfielder conceded his brother still had the wood over him in some areas.
“The time he runs for 3km time trials, I tell the boys down at the club, and they think he’s a freak,” Matt said. “But it’s great to see him doing so well because I know how hard he works.”