For nearly a decade, just a few individuals knew that Lina Nielsen had a number of sclerosis.
Identified on the age of 17, she was informed by docs to cease her athletics coaching in case it worsened her situation.
She remembers: “I bear in mind turning round and saying, ‘No, I’m an 800m runner. I’ve to qualify for the nationwide championships.'”
9 years and a number of other nationwide occasions later, with half the space to run however with the addition of some hurdles, Nielsen was lining up for the largest race of her profession on the World Championships.
It was additionally the day after her greatest relapse.
“It was in all probability one of many hardest days of my profession, possibly even my life,” Nielsen, who has relapsing-remitting MS, tells BBC Sport.
“On the day of the race I used to be simply crying all day.”
A number of sclerosis is a illness that can have an effect on the mind and spinal twine. It can’t be cured, though therapies can be found. Nielsen’s relapsing-remitting prognosis means signs could also be gentle for some time earlier than flaring up.
Her flare up in Oregon started along with her experiencing sensitivity on her left aspect. The following day, it had worsened “just about by the hour”, ultimately turning into numbness.
“I bear in mind being on the telephone to my boyfriend and he stated I might have regretted not working,” the 26-year-old says.
“I certified by proper. I ran the time to get in and likewise got here high two on the [British] trials. So in my head, I used to be identical to ‘go put in your Nice Britain vest and do your self proud’.”
The race helped her determine to publicly talk about her prognosis earlier than she made her Commonwealth Video games debut in August.
“When [the relapse] occurred, it utterly modified my complete life plan. I wished to carry out and it simply stopped me from doing that,” she says.
“In the event you have been to observe that race and examine it to different races that I would run within the season, you’d see that my physique’s not fairly the identical.
“Lots of people are coping with stuff you by no means find out about. I sort of wished to provide a little bit of a proof as to why my World Champs did not go so properly.”
‘Laviai gave me motivation’
The principle symptom that led to Nielsen’s prognosis was full right-sided weak point, which means she struggled to maneuver her proper arm and leg. Two months later, in the course of getting ready for her A-levels, she was identified with MS.
She was so upset after being identified that she didn’t inform her twin sister, fellow British athlete Laviai, about it for an additional two months.
“It sort of felt like a life sentence. You hear the phrases power and incurable. It was actually, actually troublesome,” she says.
In 2021, Laviai, a British 400m champion, obtained an MS prognosis of her personal.
“She had a tingling in her left arm that went on for a bit longer than what would have been regular after getting a vaccine,” Nielsen provides.
“We sort of knew this may be MS as a result of she’s my twin sister and genetics can play a component.
“She rotated to me and stated ‘since you’ve finished it, I am not scared.’ She was fairly early within the prognosis so it was wanting fairly optimistic.”
The Nielsen twins are identified for his or her outpouring of emotional help for one another after races and Lina says the MS is the rationale for that.
“Once you see her working to the observe, hugging me and us each crying, it is as a result of we’re the one two individuals that basically perceive what it meant to even get to that time,” she says.
“She has been such an enormous help for me. At instances the place I could not even brush my very own hair, she would brush my hair for me.
“She gave me the motivation to maintain going. She’d say ‘you by no means understand how far you are going to get’ at instances once I wished to stop.”
One other one that has been an inspiration to Nielsen is British Paralympic gold medallist Kadeena Cox.
Nielsen didn’t know Cox however contacted her on social media when she heard about her prognosis of relapsing-remitting MS, which got here only a few months after Nielsen’s.
“I stated: ‘I’ve additionally acquired the identical factor. I am actually scared. I do not know what this implies for my observe and discipline and even my life’, and he or she responded with so many optimistic messages,” says Nielsen.
“We ended up exchanging numbers and we have been in touch all through all these years. She has been such an excellent good friend to me.
“After the Commonwealth Video games, she ran over to me and I hugged her for like 5 minutes. She’s an enormous supply of inspiration.”
Now, Nielsen is wanting forward and focusing her vitality on the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“I really feel like there’s this sort of added strain from the surface to hopefully carry out just a little bit higher subsequent 12 months and going into 2024,” she says.
“I went 5 years with no relapses earlier than these World Championships so I’ve managed to get an excellent chunk of coaching in and to essentially climb the ladder.
“With relapsing-remitting MS, you will be wholesome for an extended time frame. And so it does not a lot hinder your day-to-day life – I can nonetheless carry out at an excellent stage and purpose for these world and Olympic finals.”