5 September 2016

Loughborough College student Sophie Hahn will be making her Paralympic debut in 2016 but after recording a new world record in the 100m in Doha last year and winning 11 medals across four international championships, including five gold, a title in Rio is the only one missing from her collection.

The 19 year old was inspired to take up athletics after watching the London 2012 Paralympic Games and burst onto the international scene a year later at the International Athletics World Championships in France, winning a silver medal.

Sophie, who has cerebral palsy, competes over 100, 200, 400 and 4 x 100m and in 2015, she set a new British best in taking silver in the 400m in the European Championships – and she won two further silver medals at the Championships, in the 100m and in the 4x100m relay, in which the Great Britain team set a new world record. After setting a new world record of 12.60 in India, Sophie is destined to continue her rivalry with Russia’s Margarita Goncharova in Rio.

“Going into the latest IPC World Championships in Doha, I held the world record at 13 seconds which I set at the Anniversary Games at the Olympic Park, in London in July. I was absolutely thrilled to not only win gold in Doha, but to also smash the world record again by 0.4 seconds,” said Sophie – but she admits coping with her success has been challenging at times.

“After I won my first gold medal at the IPC World Championships in 2013, I found the media attention very daunting. I had no idea why everyone was so interested in me.

“I had gone from watching Paralympic greats like Richard Whitehead, Jonnie Peacock, Hannah Cockcroft, to name a few, to being on a team alongside them. That was quite a lot to cope with!”

Sophie’s Cerebral Palsy means she sometimes gets a tight back and tight hamstrings and struggles with her coordination. “My right hip gets quite stiff sometimes, so I have physio and acupuncture to loosen it up.

“I spent 12 days at a warm weather camp in Barcelona a while ago, which made me good-to-go, so at Rio I think the warmth will be great for my performance – my muscles won’t be too tight or my stride too short.

“After a good night’s sleep and a healthy breakfast I’m more relaxed on a starting line, in front of tens of thousands of people, than anywhere else in the world.”

This story was originally published on Loughborough College’s website.

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