Vanessa Lee and Nicole Low are smashing through every sporting boundary that they’ve run through. Both 20 years old this year, the competitive spirit burns bright as they give each other a boost in raising their game.
“I got into running seriously when I decided to improve my 2.4km running time in Junior College,” Nicole reveals. “I was actually a netball player, but I got bitten by the running bug when I found that I really enjoyed the process. After over a year of practice and training, I was eventually spotted for my pace and recommended to run in some track events, so running became my preferred sport over netball.”
Vanessa on the other hand, was something of an accidental athlete. Born into a family of musicians, she ran the school’s annual cross-country on a whim and with very little real training. “I had no idea about running,” she says. “I just went for the experience with my friends, at the finish line a teacher came to tell me that not only had I won my division, but had also apparently broken a school record.”
At 16 years old, Vanessa was picked to represent her school in the Inter-School Cross Country Competition. She finished in fourth place with minimal training. The event became a personal revelation. A fire to become the best that she could be in sport had been ignited, and Vanessa put her heart and soul into athletics.
The duo became firm friends when they both entered Victoria Junior College, where the healthy competition against each other pushed them to achieve even greater results.
“Running is a very individual sport,” says Nicole. “However, having a running partner that is equally competitive really gives my training a boost. Very few people understand the mindset of driven athletes like another athlete, so our rivalry is healthy in all aspects.”
They have both developed into short distance and steeplechase specialists. In 2017, Vanessa won three Cross Country races in Singapore and was also the winner of the Under-20 Track and Field Championship for 1500m Steeplechase. Nicole followed Vanessa across the line in second place at all the three Cross Country races in 2017, and then blitzed the MacRitchie 6.4km Run to win with a time of 26.42.
“There is joy, passion and the occasional frustration in what we do, but there are only so many things that you can do in a day. No one can have it all, so if you’re really passionate about something it becomes a priority in life,” says Vanessa. “I’m actually not big on my social life and while there are many distractions to be found everywhere, I concentrate mainly on my sports and studies. I find that the focus energises me to be the best that I can be.”
They are in different universities this year, and while the responsibilities of their academic life weigh down on them, both are adamant that they will continue to pursue sports and studies with equal drive and continue to race each other on the track.
Nicole elaborates, “We know that there is still a long road ahead of us so it’s not wise to go all out and burn out too quickly. There is still a lot to learn and experience, though there is a matter of keeping everything in balance. Academic studies and running take up practically all of our waking hours, but I love what I’m doing.”
Both of them know that the shoes they wear make a huge impact on sporting performance. The great thing is, both athletes have since discovered that the current New Balance range are a perfect blend of style, comfort and speed. The New Balance Fresh Foam midsole delivers the exact feel that they need, absorbing impact shock and springing back quickly on the rebound. The highly consistent material performs no matter the weather and distance.
They will be banking on a little help from their New Balance shoes to reach new Personal Bests for the year ahead. With their fearlessly forward-looking attitudes, they are no doubt poised to run to greater heights.
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