It's Unprecedented: Triplets Going to Olympics
Luik sisters of Estonia are about to make history
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2016 10:36 AM CDT
Estonian sisters (from left) Lily, Liina, and Leila Luik.   (AP Photo/Vitnija Saldava)

(Newser) – Two hundreds sets of twins have competed at the Olympics, but an Olympic historian says he's "99.9% sure" that triplets never have—in the same Olympic Games, or even separate ones. That will change next month when Estonian sisters Leila, Liina, and Lily Luik—the Trio to Rio, as they call themselves—compete in the women's Olympic marathon, each having qualified with a race time under two hours and 45 minutes. Making the first even more impressive, per the New York Times: The sisters come from Estonia, which has boasted few women's distance runners and is home to just 1.3 million people. But even more astounding is that the 30-year-olds—who were born a month premature and spent weeks in an intensive care unit—only picked up the sport six years ago after careers as professional dancers.

The sisters aren't expected to medal, and say they'll consider it a victory if Liina—whose personal best is 2 minutes, 31 seconds slower than Leila's—cracks the top 20. "We know that we have to live in reality. It is very hard to compete against the Kenyan runners. [The three do train in that country in the winter.] We are not at the same kind of level ... but in two or three years we can do that," the sisters tell Reuters. "We had to fight to survive when we were born," says Lily. "We have this spirit to push hard." "We get so much energy from each other," adds Leila. "No one wants to be the slowest. We push, push, push." Medal or no, Women's Health notes "it's rare that an athlete makes Olympic history before even setting foot at the games—let alone three athletes."