Triplets from Estonia are set to make Olympic history by competing together in the same event in Brazil. The Olympic Marathon allows three qualified athletes to represent each nation and that is a significant factor for 30-year-old sisters Leila, Liina and Lily Luik, who have the talent to make a big impression over 26.2 miles in Rio de Janeiro in August.
Twins competing in the same event is not uncommon at Olympic level but it is believed that the Luik sisters are the first identical triplets to compete against each other in the history of the Games. The self-styled ‘Trio to Rio’ hail from the medieval city of Tartu and live separately but often train together at altitude.
Later this month they will head to Northern Italy to prepare specifically for the greatest test of their young lives, yet somewhat surprisingly they have only been running seriously for around six years. Lily said: "We have been active since childhood, we love dancing, love to be active and this pushed us to professional sports." It was Liina who started the sisters running and within two years they were good enough for international competitions.
Realistically, medals are not anticipated as their team personal best is held by Leila (2:37:12), followed by Liina (2:39:42) and Lily (2:40:30) – curiously in age order with the oldest sister being fastest. The women’s Olympic Marathon record was set in London 2012 by Tiki Gelana (2:23:07). However, they do plan to help each other tactically during the race and plan to revise those times soon.
When asked about their hopes for medals in Rio there was immediate consensus: "It would be great, it’s like our dream and we know that we have to live in reality. It is very hard to compete against the Kenyan runners. We are not at the same kind of level as they are now but in two or three years we can do that." Perhaps the reporter can be forgiven for not recalling which of the triplets provided that prophetic quote!
To harness support for their quest the Trio to Rio have set up a Facebook page