Enfield hurdler Lina Nielsen believes her more relaxed outlook will pay dividends on the track this season as she bids to qualify for the World Athletics Championships in Doha. The 23-year-old, who grew up in Leytonstone with her twin sister and fellow athlete Laviai, first got into athletics after volunteering to become a kit carrier at the London 2012 Games.
Having started off in the 800m and the 400m, she eventually found that the 400m hurdles was her true calling and was making good progress before injury derailed her in 2017. But the Enfield and Haringey Athletic Club runner feels she is now perfectly poised to make an impact on the international stage this year after putting her struggles behind her.
“This year I’m hoping to make the World Championships, which will be held in Doha in November, so it’s quite a long season ahead and I’m really excited about the prospect,” she said. “I definitely feel confident as I have a different mindset this year, I’m more relaxed towards racing and I have a more positive outlook on the sport compared to before.
“I’ve struggled a bit with confidence coming back from injury that I had at the European Indoor Championships so now I feel like I’m in a place where I’m mentally and physically strong. There is no rivalry between me and my sister. Even when we were in the same event, when we both did the 400m together, it was nice to have a familiar face in an event that can be so lonely.
“Now that we’ve gotten older and are progressing in our sport, we definitely need that support from each other, more so now, so we’re definitely fortunate to have one another.”
Beyond the World Athletics Championships, Lina also has ambitions of making her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 – but she is not getting ahead of herself just yet.
“I definitely think Tokyo is within my grasp and hopefully if the 2019 season goes well it builds not only my physically abilities but also my mentality as well,” she added. “When people say long-term goal, yeah it’s a long-term goal to be in the Olympics, but it’s next year and that’s so soon so I’m hoping that this season and next season goes so well.”
Lina was speaking at a SportsAid workshop being hosted by the Mayor of London’s office, which is supporting over 75 athletes from in and around the London region, at the London Stadium. SportsAid helps the most promising young British athletes by providing them with financial support, recognition and personal development opportunities.
The haul of up-and-coming athletes, covering all the London boroughs, from more than 30 sports are receiving £1,000 awards to help with their training and competition costs as they bid to become the country’s next generation of sporting heroes.
The awards, distributed through SportsAid, will see athletes recognise their position as role models to others, and how their stories may help to increase community pride and engagement through inspiring people to take part in sport and physical activity.
SportsAid alumni Anthony Ogogo, Goldie Sayers and Leon Taylor, as well as Commonwealth gold medallist Ama Agbeze, were all on hand at the workshop to provide advice to the athletes. And Goldie, an Olympic bronze medallist, said: “I was a recipient of the SportsAid award probably 20 years ago now and I kept the letter because it meant so much to me at the time.
“It’s the first recognition that people have seen what you’ve achieved and are supporting you along the way, so for me I like to give back to organisations that helped me in my career. The financial support is important but I think more than that, it’s just knowing that an organisation had recognised you as a young athlete with potential to be a senior international.”
The Mayor of London is working with SportsAid to provide financial support and personal development opportunities to talented young athletes from across the capital. Visit https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/sports/sport-unites/sportsaid to find out more.