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“It's our time to step up” – Hylton twins target athletics success

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While Great Britain hit their medal target of six at last year’s World Championships, the departure of some household names means there is a chance for new stars to come to the fore.

Mo Farah switched from track events to the marathon after the London showpiece while Jess Ennis-Hill retired in 2016, having added Olympic silver in Rio to the gold she won at London 2012.

Farah was the only British athlete to win individual medals at the World Championships and 21-year-old sprinters Shannon and Cheriece Hylton are determined to rise to the challenge and help fill the void left by two of GB’s Olympic stars.

“Mo Farah has left the track, Jess Ennis-Hill has retired,” says Shannon, the British 200m champion, who competed at the worlds. “It is our time to step up and bring those medals home.

“The levels across the sport are rising each year so every athlete has the choice to stand still or go with those increased levels and it is great for everyone.”

Cheriece adds: “It is an exciting time to be involved in the sport, we have a lot of young athletes coming through. Last year’s worlds showcased that and the Commonwealths showed again that it is in a great place.”

Katarina Johnson-Thompson won her first global gold at the World Indoor Championships in January while Andrew Pozzi won the 60m hurdles.

Zharnel Hughes was disqualified at the Commonwealth Games after crossing the line first in the men’s 200m but Dina Asher-Smith won bronze in the women’s 200m.

The 4x100m relay teams both claimed medals at last year’s Worlds – gold for the men, silver for the women – and England won both events at the Commonwealths.

But the individual medal for Asher-Smith, 22, was a particular highlight for the Hylton sisters, who have been on junior international teams with the British 100 and 200m record holder.

Cheriece, who specialises in the 400m, also saw the excitement first hand having been selected as part of England’s 4x400m relay team for the Gold Coast, although she was not chosen to run in the final.

“I shared the same apartment as Dina in Australia and we were so happy for her when she won her individual bronze,” she says. “She has worked so hard in previous championships and come so close, so for her to get that medal was incredible.”

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The twins, both coached by Ryan Freckleton, are aiming to compete together for the first time at senior level on the Great Britain team for August’s European Championships in Berlin, but have the Tokyo Olympics firmly in their sights.

“I think it helps that Cheriece and I aren’t in the same events,” admits Shannon. “It is nice to support each other and focus on our events separately. We are naturally competitive anyway but even if we were to do the same event, it wouldn’t affect our performances.

“It is weird competing separately because at all of our junior championships we competed together and shared together, but now we are getting used to being apart and things like sharing with different people.

“Whether I am away or she is away, we still communicate all the time. I had to Facetime her early in the morning when she was in Australia and it felt like I was there.”

Being mentored by Andy Murray

The pair have been signed by Andy Murray’s management company and while they are juggling training and studies – biomedical sciences for Shannon, business management for Cheriece – they have already had advice from the two-time Wimbledon champion.

“I had a chat with Andy before the Commonwealths as it was my first senior event and I wanted to draw on his experience as an elite athlete,” says Cheriece. “He told me to just go out and perform to the best of my ability. Don’t change anything in your training and just enjoy it.

“I feel the attributes you need as an elite sportsperson are transferrable. It is good to have that fresh mindset and we’ve chatted about the differences between the two sports. It is really refreshing to hear him.

“We’ve given him some sprinting techniques,” laughs Shannon. “We do play tennis a bit – but only on holiday. Cheriece’s forehand is quite good and my backhand isn’t bad. Maybe we need a coaching session.”

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BBC Sport – Athletics

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