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18 August 2017

Silver Medal Success for Geography Student

Geography student Laviai Nielsen, starting the third year of her undergraduate degree in September, has won a silver medal in the 4 x 400m women's relay at the London 2017 World Athletics Championships.

Laviai Nielsen in the 2017 European Athletics Under 23 Championships.
Laviai Nielsen in the 2017 European Athletics Under 23 Championships.

Laviai Nielsen, an undergraduate student from the Department of Geography, has gone from self-acknowledged ‘superfan’ of athletics to a medal-winner, after helping her team to take home silver in the women’s 4 x 400m relay at the World Athletics Championships in London. Laviai and her team mates, Zoey Clark, Eilidh Doyle and Emily Diamond, ensured that Great Britain met their pre-championship target of six medals.

Laviai, who trains at Lee Valley in London, was inspired to take up the 4 x 400m relay seriously when she volunteered at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She narrowly missed out on a place at last year’s Olympics in Rio and decided to take a year out from her studies to focus on preparing for the London 2017 World Championships. Speaking about the decision she made to suspend her studies temporarily Laviai said: “It was a massive decision to take a gap year, as I love my degree so much and had made so many dear friends in my cohort. Nevertheless, it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Having time away from my degree meant that I was able to compete at my first senior international competition, the European Indoor Championships in March. I came fourth; a result that was completely beyond my expectations at the time. I was also able to go to a training camp in Florida for two months. I came back ready to conquer the season, knowing that I had had a full year of preparation for the Wold Championships and was in the best shape I had ever been.”

Reflecting on her and her team’s win last Sunday, 13 August, Laviai said: “When our anchor leg crossed the line in second place and I realised that I had just won a world medal it was an incredible feeling, beyond words. All the sacrifices, all the hard work, the sleepless nights, the sessions when I cried my eyes out thinking I couldn't do it... all of it culminated in that one moment and I could do nothing but scream!”

Laviai is now looking forward to resuming her studies in Geography at King’s in September: “I come into my third year with a whole lot of new knowledge and a new motivation to succeed in my academics, alongside my athletics.”

Laviai is taking a BA Geography degree focusing on urban and development geography. Her dissertation explores links between the Olympics and urban regeneration.

Many congratulations to Laviai on her fantastic achievement from all at King’s, in SSPP and in the Department of Geography.