Leila, Liina and Lily Luik, triplet sisters from Estonia will make history as the first identical triplets to compete against each other at the Olympic Games when they cross the start line the women’s marathon at the Rio games.
While twins competing in the same event is not uncommon at Olympic level, it is believed that no triplets have competed against each other in the same event before.
The 30-year old blonde, blue-eyed sisters from the southern Estonian university town of Tartu took up serious distance running when they were 24 in 2010. Liina, who started the sisters on the running road, said that long distance running had more appeal to them compared to the highly technical nature of sprinting.
After a couple of years the sisters realised that we were good enough to take part in international competitions and then decided to try for the Olympics, setting up the slogan of “Trio to Rio” to give shape to their goals and dreams of all three competing in the Olympics.
Despite taking up distance running at the same time, they did not compete against each other until the European championships in Zurich in 2014 due to injury of one of the sisters.
In competition, the sisters say they support each other mentally and even in race tactics. For example, Lily said in Copenhagen in 2014, she and Liina ran together for the whole race and switched places when it was windy.
The sisters live separately in Estonia and sometimes have to train apart. But they regularly spend Estonia’s frosty winters together at high altitude training camp in Kenya. “It’s boring when you are alone. When sisters are together I feel that I have more energy, maybe, and support each other,” Leila said. In preparation for the Rio games they will all be training in northern Italy from June.
The sisters are unlikely end up on the podium at Rio, but all three said that their goal for the Rio games is to finish all together and also to set their personal bests and finish with a smile.
Leila, the oldest, has the fastest personal best at 2:37.12, set in Shanghai in 2013. She is followed by Liina who’s personal best is a 2 minutes 30 seconds slower and Lily, the youngest, who is a further 45 seconds back.
Kenyan superstar Tiki Gelana set the Olympic record of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 7 seconds in London in 2012.
“We would love that [to win in Rio]. It’s like our dream also. But we know that we have to be in reality and we know that it’s very hard to compete against Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. We’re not such kind of level like they are right now, but maybe two three years later we can do that,” Liina said.