COOL RUNNINGLina & Laviai Nielsen

Twin sisters Lina and Laviai Nielsen are on track to be Great Britain's next running sensations. We try to keep up
2018-02-01
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"We've always had big goals," Laviai explains, "Growing up, I wanted to be a professor, while Lina dreamed of becoming a scientist. We always wanted to be top of the class at school and would get miffed at anything less." Laviai and Lina finished in silver and bronze place, respectively, in the women's 400m at the British indoor team trial event; subsequently, at the European Athletics indoor championships in Belgrade, Laviai came fourth in the 400m and was part of the British 4 x 400m relay team that finished second.

Their school was turned into a specialist sports school when the games were announced, complete with running track. "We'd spend every lunchtime on it, running and running," says Laviai. "We had more opportunities because we lived in one of the Olympic boroughs," explained Lina. They were brought up, and still live, in Leytonstone with their mother; their home is 20 minutes from the Olympic Stadium, "there were chances to join free sports clubs, and suddenly, we were exposed to that environment," Laviai says.

Up until that point, exercise was just a hobby. That changed when they became kit carriers for Jessica Ennis-Hill (Laviai) and heptathlete and sprinter Jessica Zelinka (Lina) at the 2012 Games. Since 2012, they've surrounded themselves with a dedicated team and their bond as sisters grows effortlessly fluid and intriguing to witness.

Along with training and competing, the girls are also studying at degree level. Lina is a third-year chemistry student at Queen Mary's university of London, while Laviai is in the middle of a geography degree at Kings College London. "Working hard in sport has taught me to work hard in my studies, and staying focused in school has helped me stay focused on the track," Lina says.

They never fall out, whatever the outcome. "We know what we each go through, so you just want the other to do well," Laviai says. “And that could be in different ways. If Lina runs a personal best, even if I come first and she's second, then I'll be happy for her. It’s just different ways of seeing success."

Lina and Laviai Nielsen are on track to be Great Britain’s next running sensations. We’re just trying to keep up.

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