Imani Lansiquot and Romell Glave - remember those names. 17-year-old Romell is pipped to be the next Usain Bolt, while 19-year-old Imani is the second fastest British teen of all time. We caught up with them at the shoot for new PUMA Nightcat run collection.
How did you each get started in athletics?
Romell: I started when I was small in Jamaica. I saw my family run – my dad and my mum used to run, and my sister - so I continued the tradition.
Imani: I got into athletics because of my parents as well. They actually met at a competition and made sure their child was going to be a sprinter! I kind of knew I was fast from school sports days and carried that through to now.
What was the point at which you realised you could go big?
I: I think it was perhaps was in 2013, and I won my first English schools competition. I got called up to represent England, and that was the point where I thought ‘I want to take this seriously and be professional.’ Prior to that it was just something I would do for fun at the weekends and after school.
Who’s your biggest running inspiration?
I: Obviously you’ve got Usain, he’s a big reason why Puma is so prolific. Also the likes of Elaine Thompson, Tori Bowie, [Marie-Josée] Ta Lou. At the moment, sprinting is so exciting – there’s not only one stand-out name, there are so many women, especially in Britain.
R: I always wanted to be an athlete from 2008 when I saw Usain. He’s my biggest running inspiration.
What does your weekly training programme look like?
R: I’m on a break now, so I don’t know what my coach has planned for me other than adding another training session. I do two sessions for speed training and one for weights.
I: Four times a week I’ll do two sessions a day and on one day a week I’ll just do one session, so I train about nine times a week. Four of those are strength sessions – I only started doing that last year and it was such a culture shock because I wasn’t used to training that much! It’s taken me a whole year to get used to it.
What are your favourite sessions?
I: Speed sessions, all the way! Wouldn’t you say the same? [Romell agrees] I hate long distance training, hate it, but it’s part of winter training so we have to do it. I love speed sessions, things over 60 metres, that’s my favourite thing to do. Long distance for sprinters is like 300m, 400m! But it’s at speed, it’s speed endurance, so I’m not completely lazy!
Imani, you’re at uni at the moment, and Romell, you’re at college. What are you studying?
I: Psychology at King’s [College London]. I’m just in my first year now, I took a gap year. Fitting training in around uni is very hectic. I actually start formal training next week, but most of my days are going to be sandwiched with training, uni, training every day. I have my gym at uni then I go up to Lee Valley to do my track sessions.
R: I’m doing BTEC Level 3 Sports. It’s about fitness, the human body and psychology. It helps me know how the body works and how the muscles function.
If you both had to focus on any sport outside running, what do you think it would be?
R: [Straight away] Cricket.
I: Really?! My family love cricket. You know Brian Lara? I’m named after Brian Lara. My name is Imani-Lara. How annoying! I would say tennis. I’m really inspired by Serena Williams.
What has been the highlight of your running career so far?
R: Winning the double at National Champs [Glave won the 100m race in 10:21 and the 200m in 21:08 at the England U20 Championships this June].
I: Can we just say, he’s the fastest 17-year-old in the world! I remember, I watched that race, it was insane. I’m the second fastest teenager in British history, so that would be my biggest achievement. I did that at the World Junior Champs.
Are there any new up-and-coming athletes that you see as real competition?
I: I don’t really know what’s going on in terms of people who are younger than me, but it is exciting to see people who are achieving better than I did at that age. It’s good to see the sport progressing, and I’m always there as a point of advice for young girls coming up through the rankings.
R: There’s a lot for next year’s under 20s, but it’s better with competition.
If you could give one piece of advice to anyone who takes up running, what would it be?
I: It would be to just enjoy it and set yourself small goals. It can be daunting, especially going into something professionally or trying to take it really seriously, so set weekly goals, things that are easy to achieve and eventually you can build up to bigger goals.
R: I would say to always think about what they’re doing, have their plans and think about how they’re going to achieve them, and to aim for them.