Berlin-bound sprinter has been inspired by Dina Asher-Smith on and off the track
When it comes to seeking advice as a rising sprint star, taking tips from the British 100m and 200m record-holder isn’t a bad place to start – especially when the route being taken seems to follow in their very fast footsteps.
Imani-Lara Lansiquot first met Dina Asher-Smith in 2014, ahead of their trip to Eugene in Oregon for the IAAF World Junior Championships.
Forming part of the relay squad, a 16-year-old Lansiquot watched Asher-Smith – two years her senior – storm to success in the 100m. It proved to be an inspiring, and pivotal, moment.
“Watching her win was completely awe-inspiring,” says Lansiquot. “That was a big motivation for me and a turning point in my career.”
Asher-Smith set the still-standing national under-20 100m record with 11.14 that year, while Lansiquot came close two years later and sits just behind her on the all-time rankings with 11.17.
A little over 12 months on, Asher-Smith smashed the senior mark and also added the 200m record to her CV, but injury struggles meant Lansiquot had to learn to be patient when it came to her own improvements.
“That was a big motivation for me and a turning point in my career” – Lansiquot on the 2014 World Juniors
Looking to put some balance back into her life after leaving school, she started studying psychology at King’s College London and switched coaches to work with Steve Fudge.
As the stress of juggling both areas started to build, Lansiquot knew who to turn to – a fellow athlete who graduated from that same seat of learning last year.
“In my first week (at university) I was completely bombarded and overwhelmed with all the work,” she remembers. “I had to give her a call and said: ‘Dina, how did you do it?’
“We were on the phone for an hour and she literally broke it down to me. She didn’t make it any better than it was. She said: ‘Listen, it’s going to suck, it’s not going to be easy at all. But it’s the balance that you need and it’s really worth it.’
“She gave me advice on how to manage my work, to get assignments done as early as possible so that around the championships and competing I’m not too stressed out with assignments and exams.
“She’s the British record-holder for 100m and 200m, she left King’s with a 2:1 (in history) – I definitely look to emulate what she’s done,” she adds. “She’s a huge inspiration and she’s handled it really gracefully. I definitely look to follow in her footsteps.”
Lansiquot’s hard work in both areas of her life is now paying off as she was just 2% off gaining a first at the end of year one at King’s College, while she improved her 100m PB to 11.11 at the Müller Anniversary Games over the weekend, boosting herself to joint sixth on the UK all-time list.
That performance also grabbed the attention of GB team selectors and the 20-year-old was named in the team for next month’s European Championships in Berlin, where she will make her senior individual international debut.
“It has been a very long journey,” explains the 2016 World U20 Championships fourth-placer. “The transition from a junior to senior is not easy but I’ve had a really great team around me. I knew the times would come, I just had to be patient.
“It’s my first championships, my first year and it’s an environment I’m new to, but I’m not there just to participate or get experience, as amazing as that is,” she adds, looking ahead to Berlin, where she’ll join Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita in lining up for the 100m as well as forming part of the sprint relay squad.
“I’m there to put my best foot forward and do myself proud. I really think there’s a lot left in the tank. We’ve worked for more than 11.11, hopefully I can get it right and time it perfectly for a championships.
“I’m determined to go there, make a final and see what happens from there.”
“It has been a very long journey. The transition from a junior to senior is not easy”
Athletics talent runs in Lansiquot’s family as her parents Richard and Terrey met at an English Schools Championships when they were teenagers.
The Sutton & District sprinter tried a number of different sports while growing up but athletics was the one she proved to be best at. Despite being named after a cricket legend, she laughs as she admits she doesn’t possess any skills in the sport.
“It’s true. It’s an absolute joke, but it’s true,” Lansiquot says, on being named after legendary West Indies batsman Brian Lara. “My family on my dad’s side, my St Lucian side, are huge cricket fans. They absolutely adore West Indies.
“My dad tried to convince my mum to call me Brianna Lara. Imagine that! My mum said he could have the Lara but not the Brianna.
“I have no hand-eye coordination. I can’t do football, I can’t do cricket. I’m really bad at it.”
Fortunately cricket’s loss appears to be athletics’ gain and Lansiquot is fast making a name for herself on the track.
Post-PB chat in London:
“I remember watching @realshellyannfp in 2012, when I was about 13, and thinking, ‘I really, really want to be like her one day.” So to have her to my left and be pushing to beat her… I’m absolutely elated.” Post-PB chat with @ImaniLara ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/ulFl5kh6bs
— Athletics Weekly (@AthleticsWeekly) July 21, 2018
» See the August 2 edition of AW for a training feature on Imani-Lara Lansiquot