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Double first: the twin sprinters with the Tokyo Olympics in their sights | Tim Lewis

Champion athletes Cheriece and Shannon Hylton only started running competitively five years ago. Now both sisters aim to represent Britain in 2020. By Tim Lewis

When the Hylton sisters were teenagers – they are now 21 – they were netball ninjas, terrorising the courts of southeast London. “It was our second favourite sport,” they say in unison, before combusting in a fit of giggles – a laugh that, since primary school they say, has been compared, pretty accurately, to a dolphin celebration.

Their main weapon was that they are twins and, to the untrained eye, identical. This made them devilish to mark. Shannon was a wing attack and Cheriece played centre but, to add to their opponents’ bemusement and frustration, they would fluidly switch position. “People would get so confused,” says Shannon, who is fractionally taller than her sister and has a tiny beauty spot on her left cheek. “And then they’d start shouting: ‘You’re marking the wrong twin! She’s over there! No, she’s there!’”

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Source: gad