It’s brothers against brothers as local siblings compete on ‘Amazing Race’
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org February 14, 2013 8:42PM
Brothers Idries (left) and Jamil Abdur-Rahman compete for $1 million in the latest season of "The Amazing Race."
‘THE AMAZING RACE’
7 to 8 p.m. Sundays on WBBM-Channel 2
Updated: March 18, 2013 6:21AM
Twin brothers Jamil and Idries Abdur-Rahman are used to doing things together.
Growing up in Hyde Park, the aspiring pilots would take the Blue Line to O’Hare to watch the planes take off and land.
After graduating from Kenwood Academy, the siblings enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where they shifted their focus from aviation to medicine. They went to Rush Medical College, became obstetrician-gynecologists and worked side-by-side at a women’s health center in Ottawa. They’re both in the midst of moving to the north suburbs to practice at Vista Medical Center in Waukegan.
“I tell people I came out first by seven minutes and he’s been following me ever since,” said Jamil, 36.
The twins recently followed each other on a sprint around the globe in “The Amazing Race,” CBS’ long-running Emmy Award magnet that starts its 22nd season Sunday.
The doctors are one of two sets of siblings with Chicago ties that make up this season’s 11 teams, which include a couple of roller derby moms, female country singers, firefighters and father-son cancer survivors.
The duos duke it out for a $1 million prize, traveling 30,000 miles through nine countries as they tackle adrenaline-pumping challenges like skydiving in Bora Bora, hunting for scorpions in Botswana and scaling the treacherous north face of Switzerland’s Eiger mountain.
“I’ve been a fan of the show since season one,” said Idries, a father of four. “It combines everything I love: travel, culture, physical challenges, mental challenges. I’ve always wanted to do it.”
Nurses at the brothers’ medical practice had been telling them to try out for the show for years. Jamil, a father of two boys, decided to do it both for the adventure and the chance to debunk stereotypes about his religion. Both Idries and Jamil are Muslim.
“When patients see us for the first time they say the name doesn’t fit the face — they expect someone from the Middle East,” Jamil said. “People expect Muslims to look or act a certain way. I wanted people to see we’re pretty much just like you.”
To gear up for their race around the world, Idries and Jamil reacquainted themselves with driving stick shift and took swimming lessons. They didn’t feel the need to do any team-building or communication exercises.
“We work together all the time,” Jamil said.
The same can be said for another pair of “Amazing Race” brothers, Anthony and Bates Battaglia. Born in west suburban Addison and reared in Norwood Park, the professional hockey players grew up training together on the ice. They relocated to Raleigh, N.C., when Bates was drafted by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.
“We’re basically the same person,” said Bates, 36, who recently retired from pro hockey after years spent playing for different teams — never the Chicago Wolves or the Blackhawks.
“But I’ve put a beating on both of them several times,” said Bates, adding that he scored his sole career hat trick against the Hawks.
Anthony, 33, plays for the minor league Huntsville Havoc, a job that turned out to be good training for the rigors of “Amazing Race.”
“Playing in the minors for my entire career — sleeping on bus floors and then having to compete — it definitely helped,” Anthony said.
“We’re definitely used to being on the go,” said Bates, owner of a sports bar in Raleigh called Lucky B’s. “We also had the advantage of being physically fit. If you’re a professional athlete, you have to be somewhat in shape.”
Prior to the “Amazing Race,” most of the Bates brothers’ travel was hockey-related.
“We were always fans of the show,” said Bates, who never doubted that his younger brother would be his ideal partner. “I knew we’d play the game the same way.”
So what’s tougher? Pro hockey or “The Amazing Race?”
Bates said it depends. One thing he can say for sure about the race: “It’s definitely harder than it looks.”