This is the first article written by Stuart Weir for the second day of the Microplus UK Athletics Indoor Championships. Stuart is recovering from surgery, so, instead of being in Birmingham, Stuart was covering the event remotely, which is not his normal modus operandi. 

This is the story by Stuart Weir on Laviai and Lina Nilsen, two of Team GB’s best 400-meter athletes. It is an inspiring story. 

Sister act

For me, one of the most intriguing races on day two of the Microplus UK Athletics Indoor Championships was the women’s 400m.  The final had been set up with athletes running 3 rounds – prelim and semi on day one with final on day 2, therefore three 400s  in not much more than 24 hours. The fact that the two fastest runners in the semi-finals were twin sisters – Laviai and Lina Nilsen – added to the intrigue.  Lina was one of three athletes who had run a PR in the semi-final.  While Laviai was the fastest in the prelim and semi, one wondered if the extra strength of Jessie Knight and Lina, who are 400m hurdlers, might give them an advantage given the three races in a little 24 hours.

Sister Act: Laviai Nielsen, Lina Nielsen, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics

In the end, the result was

1 Laviai Nielsen – 51:54

2 Lina Nielsen – 51:95 PB, a second personal best for the weekend

3 Jessie Knight – 52.79

That will be the core of a severe relay team in Glasgow.

Lina Nielsen hugs Laviai Nielsen post-race, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics

Laviai said of her win: “I was quite nervous coming in as the favorite.  I knew how strong Lina would be; she was running well and would push me all the way.  It is hard to race knowing you are being chased, but I knew I needed to take it on hard.  This year has been to stick to the plan, and we have achieved exactly what we wanted”.

Sister Act: Laviai Nielsen, Lina Nielsen, photo by Getty Images for UK Athletics

Lina commented: “We had a strategy coming into the final to push hard, for Laviai to break at the 200, and for me to follow on. The back straight always seems to go on forever.  We are very proud of each other.  Laviai said to me today, you can run sub-52’, so she was right; I didn’t really think about times”.

There is a human aspect to Nielsen’s story, with Lina revealing in 2022 that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis. She continues life as an elite athlete regardless of the challenges.

Poor old Lina, she may be a British silver medalist, but she is only the second fastest in her family! But wait, I think it was Laviai who won with Lina second.  However, when they were in High School, the identical twins once swapped classes to see if their teachers noticed. Are we sure they didn’t pull the stunt again this weekend?

The sisters have produced a YouTube video diary on their training, which is available at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEzXn955PXc

Stuart Weir is recovering from surgery and was covering the event remotely.

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