Bennatan twins running for UConn track
Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 22:03
The chances of conceiving identical twins is about 0.3 percent, according to USA Today. The Wall Street Journal says the odds of a high school athlete playing Division I athletics is about 3.7 percent. The odds of identical twins both being Division I athletes? Approximately 1 in 250,000.
Alex and Tim Bennatan were born in France and lived there for eight years before moving to Chicago, where they still reside. Both are 22-year-old seniors at the University of Connecticut. Alex is an applied health sciences major while Tim majors in economics. If you ask the brothers however, this is where the differences between them end.
“We are identical in every way except [Tim] likes ketchup and I don’t,” Alex said. “That’s our only difference.”
While the identical twins may be exactly alike, they are unlike most other college students. That is because they are championship-winning, record-setting track and field athletes.
The Bennatans were not always sure they would come to the University of Connecticut. They received scholarship offers from the University of Texas and Virginia Tech for track and from the University of Colorado and University of Denver for soccer. Dubbed the “French connection” by their soccer teammates, the brothers say they could have played either sport in college but chose track because they thought they could have more success.
“We never really planned on going to the same college, it just happened that way,” Tim said. “We both liked UConn better than all the other schools.”
Despite the fact that both of the brothers agreed that they miss playing soccer, they are happy with their decision to stick with track because of the great experience they have had at UConn.
This experience began freshman year when the brothers finished forty-eighth and forty-ninth at the UMass Invitational, separated by mere thousandths of a second. Later in the cross country season, the brothers tied for fifty-fifth at the Central Connecticut Mini Meet. This was just the start of a long track career for both brothers that has yet to distinguish which brother is faster.
As sophomores, Alex finished first in the 800 meter run at the indoor New England Championships. Four one-hundredths of a second behind him was Tim, finishing in second. The next year, Tim finished third in the 800 at the New England Championships with Alex coming in sixth. Bring these old races up with the brothers and the losing brother will claim they mean nothing. Only the winner of the next race matters. When Tim tried to say he was the faster of the two because of an individual title in the 1000 meter run from last year’s Big East Championship, Alex laughed and immediately dismissed the notion.
“He’s just living in the past,” Alex said incredulously. “It’s from last year.”
The competition between the brothers extends past just the track meets and the practices. These brothers compete in nearly everything they do. The Bennatans’ roommate, Cory Duggan, a successful track athlete in his own right, sees this competitive spirit on a daily basis.
“Living with them is very interesting – never a dull moment,” Duggan said. “They’re very competitive, there’s not many occasions where an opportunity to compete presents itself and they don’t hop all over it.” Duggan admits that even something as simple as cleaning the dishes can’t be done without having a competition to determine who must complete the task.
Freshman Alvaro Chavez, who describes the Bennatan twins as “big brothers” to him, echoed this sentiment, telling a story of the brothers holding an impromptu long jump competition in practice one day.
“There was a lot of trash talking,” Chavez said. “When Tim won he took his shirt off and took a victory lap.”
Despite this endless struggle to prove who is the more accomplished brother, neither would ever hesitate to help the other succeed. In high school the two had opposite academic strengths, with Alex as a good science and math student and Tim excelling in english and social studies. Instead of allowing each other to struggle, they found a way to help each other out.
“We would switch classes,” Alex said, a smile widening across his face as he remembered the crafty act. “It was just for tests. So whenever he’d have a math test I would go and take it for him.”
Other than their parents, who can tell them apart “from our backs,” the brothers still have problems with people not being able to tell them apart. According to Alex, some people get it down after a week and have no problem telling them apart. For others, including some of their best friends from home, it just never clicks. Even teammates struggle to tell the brothers apart.
“I always get them mixed up so I call them ‘twin one’ and ‘twin two’,” Chavez said. “The names are interchangeable.”
Not only do people have trouble catching on to which brother is which, many more have trouble catching up with them.