Lina Nielsen on yoga, rivals and Olympic objectives

Nielsen, the eighth quickest British feminine 400m hurdles runner of all time, is a certified yoga instructor
Date: June 24-26 Assembly level: Manchester Regional Area
Protection: Stay on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport web site and app

The solar seems to be over the horizon. Cows chew on skinny grass. The frenzy of the Ganges River is the one sound.

It’s early. Not but 6 p.m.

However via the gate to an ashram, in a big open courtyard, Lina Nielsen pours salt water from a small jug into one in every of her nostrils.

“It cleanses the nostril to arrange for respiratory workouts,” she explains to BBC Sport.

“Then we walked into the Himalayan foothills in silence and focused on our respiratory. We reached the highest, got here down once more, drank some tea. Then there was a two-hour ashtanga yoga class earlier than a breakfast of coconut oats and fruit at 10am: 00.

“Then it was both a philosophy class or an anatomy class, a lightweight lunch, a 30-minute break the place you can both take a nap or examine, one other two-hour yoga class, a brief break, then one other yoga class.

“It was actually intense. 13-hour days for 28 days. It was additionally among the best experiences of my life. I miss it a lot.”

50 years earlier than, The Beatles had made the identical journey as Nielsen, from London to the North Indian metropolis of Rishikesh.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s seek for enlightenment got here with a circus. Their fame introduced photographers and journalists to the holy Hindu metropolis.

However Nielsen discovered the anonymity she wished.

5 weeks earlier than, she had completed seventh on the British Championships in Birmingham and missed out on qualifying for the 2019 World Cups in Doha.

“I used to be actually, actually upset and wished one thing to take my focus away,” she recollects.

“I didn’t wish to inform anybody that I used to be an athlete, as a result of I needed to clarify that I didn’t attain the world championships. I wished a break from being an athlete.”

Nielsen’s cowl story was that she was a receptionist.

However as she and her fellow college students stretched their minds and our bodies on the mat, it slowly stepped up.

As others struggled with the bodily pressure, Nielsen absorbed it suspiciously properly.

One night, their anatomy instructor checked out Nielsen’s arch, the impression of her soles, and expelled her to class as a form of runner.

Lastly she got here clear.

“While you spend 28 days dwelling so shut collectively, you grow to be this weak uncooked individual. Everybody sees your true colours since you are removed from residence, the place every little thing is so new that you find yourself being so shut.”

Shortly after Nielsen left India with a circle of recent mates and an training as a yoga instructor, Covid arrived.

The Olympics have been postponed and Nielsen re-evaluated. After confessing to her classmates, she needed to be true to herself.

“The essential factor was to be sincere about what I would like from this sport and the best way to observe up on it,” she stated.

“I’ve made huge enhancements in my mentality the place I’ve gone into coaching and operating.

“I might be going to all three occasions this yr [Worlds, Commonwealths, Europeans]. I wish to get all of the expertise I can to result in Paris.

“That is the aim: make an Olympic physician and get an Olympic medal.”

That may be a bullish goal. Nielsen is 26. Though she was named in England Commonwealth Video games staff on Wednesday, she has but to make her main championship debut.

Nevertheless, her type is quickly and quickly bettering.

She took greater than a second from her private document of 400m hurdles in 2021 earlier than operating half a second off with a run of 54.73 seconds in Rome earlier this month.

That put her in eighth place on the UK all-time record and twelfth quickest on the planet this yr.

Nielsen believes there may be extra to come back. And so forth.

“I used to be out in lane 9 in Rome,” she recalled. “Most programs have eight programs, I don’t bear in mind once I was final within the ninth.

“I felt thus far out of it, I couldn’t hear anybody, I believed I used to be about to run into one of many sponsor screens, and I had despatched impediment 5 into the air.

“A lot went incorrect. None of my races have gone in accordance with plan thus far this yr.

“If I get that race proper, we’ll be taking a look at a a lot sooner time.”

She’s going to want it too.

Sydney McLaughlin
Sydney McLaughlin set the world document within the 400m hurdles on her technique to profitable the Olympics 400m gold in Tokyo final summer time

On a world stage, American world document holder Sydney McLaughlin is in a category of her personal. In Europe, Holland’s Femke Bol is the dominant power. Domestically, Jessie Knight remains to be the one to beat.

This weekend, Nielsen and Knight will meet on the British Championships in Manchester. For the reason that qualifying customary is already safe, a top-two rating can even safe Nielsen a spot on the July World Championships in Oregon.

There’s stress. However after Rishikesh, Nielsen is aware of the best way to launch it.

“By way of meditation, I can discover the quiet place earlier than a race,” she stated. “To breathe, get the feelings down and discover that Zen.”

If all goes in accordance with plan, that circulation will lead her all the best way to a Paris podium.

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