Lansiquot still dreaming of Olympic success

Lansiquot competed in the 100m at last year's World Athletics Championships © Reuters

Named after cricket legend Brian Lara, athlete Imani-Lara Lansiquot was always destined for sporting greatness.

The 22-year-old is one of the UK’s fastest women across 100 metres, her time of 11.09 seconds putting her fourth on the country’s all-time list.

If she is able to qualify for the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, this week postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Lansiquot is expected to repeat this success – and she can hardly wait for the chance to do so.

“It keeps me up at night sometimes thinking about the Olympics and what it would be like to get a medal”, she said.

“We're always training and because we're always aiming for high, high successes when you're in the moment, you don't often appreciate it.

“It's one of those things that no one can ever take away from you. It's one of those things that brings you into an elite group of people around the world and in world history.

“To have my name next to the likes of Usain Bolt, people that have actually won medals at the Olympics and represented their country to the highest, highest level, would be overwhelming, incredible. I can't even put it into words.”

When the Croydon-born sprinter is not on the track – where she trains twice a day, five times a week – she is busy studying Psychology at King's College London.

Despite support from both her university and the coveted Sky Sports Scholarships programme, this juggling act, one familiar to a student athlete, is not always easy for the young sprinter – let alone in the times of a global pandemic.

“I'm in my third year at the moment so it’s hellish, absolutely hellish,” she added. “Doing my dissertation after training is like the worst thing ever.

“The support offered by the university can only take you so far because it is so hard. I think it probably takes something more internal from yourself, some motivation, some organisation to try and keep on top of stuff but it’s really hard.

“I actually love the balance. I couldn't just focus on one. I think both complement each other. Training is focused, driven, energy. It is really, really intense. Then with university I can relax a bit more and do something with just like normal people and just be like a normal student.”

But the European gold medallist isn’t just out to achieve for herself – she hopes her exploits can girls, who statistically drop out of sport at twice the rate of boys by the age of 14, to seek sporting greatness.

She said: “I find sport to be quite empowering. You feel almost like a super woman when you’re standing on the start line.

“I see sport as something that doesn't have any boundaries. I think it's incredible that you can be male or female, young or old, black or white, and a good performance is a good performance.

“I hope that I can show young girls who might not want to get into sport because it’s not the most glamorous or exciting thing to do nowadays, that anything you want to do, you put mind to it and you can be fantastic at it.

“I've always wanted to have lots of success and I didn't know if it was going to be through sport, but one thing that definitely was in my mind is that I’m going to work damn hard at it.

“I just hope that with a little bit of hard work people can see that the possibilities are endless.”