Adidas invited me to meet rising track twin stars Cheriece and Shannon Hylton, and Laviai and Lina Nielsen. These girls have been igniting the track with their fresh talent I went to down to Battersea training track to have a chat.
You can’t help notice the natural beauty of the girls when you meet them. They look like models decked out in the latest adidas range, including the new colour adidas Ultraboost which apparently “are like walking on pillows!” Laviai says.
They put me through my paces in a warm up. I try my best to limber up. 19 year olds Laviai and Lina live together and are both studying for degrees as well as training three track sessions and two gym sessions every week. How on earth do they juggle it all? “We go from lecture to gym to lecture. We discipline ourselves to fit it all in.” They tell me that they dart between university and their training track in North London after their university day is over. “The chaos keeps us sane!”
Talent spotted at a very early age at primary school by a visiting Athens 800m Olympian Joanne Fenn. Fenn spotted their talent and took the twins to her local club to train “It all started from there”.
They are working towards their Tokyo Olympic dreams and hope to compete in front of their home crowd in London 2017 – “we see the stadium from our hill training at Alexandra palace, we look at the stadium and think, that’s the dream, that’s why we do it!”
The girls are patiently showing me how to do a track start out of blocks. It’s an awful lot to think about and not as easy as it looks. “You should feel like you are about to fall on your face” says one of the Hylton twins. I can’t look up to see as I’m concentrating on trying not to do exactly that.
Cheriece and Shannon, 18, are waiting for their A level results, and hope to get to university too.
“We used to do PE and we got invited to London indoor youth games in year 5 by an athletics coach.. and it started from there.”
Both girls are also trained ballerinas (their stretches put mine to shame!). Sporty and active from a young age, the transition to GB athletics has been smooth. “Ballet, tap and athletics took up our days, we’ve always been active managing our time from a young age, coming into it now it’s not that difficult,” they tell me.
Always on the search for comfortable and fashionable training gear, I ask them what they like to wear when training.
“Super colours are our favourites! Bright bold colours are what we love.”
Cheriece and Shannon also hope to make London 2017, and the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Shannon tells me the European Juniors was special for her. “I came 6th in the world youths, and 4th at world juniors I finally got my international medal in the European Juniors!”
The track performances of the twins have brought them to the attention of many. I had to ask if there is any competitiveness between the twins? They all agree when Laviai says, “our competitiveness is very healthy and natural, it’s just banter.” “My greatest competitor is my greatest supporter,” she recently posted on Instagram along with a picture of her and her sister.
The girls are grounded, fun and dedicated and the future of GB track is in the capable hands (and legs!) of these great ladies.