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Sophie Hahn
07 January 2015 

Sophie Hahn (coach: Joseph McDonnell) is using the three silver medals she won at the IPC European Championships as inspiration to go one further at the IPC World Championships in Doha this year.

The 17 year old sprinter, who has cerebral palsy followed up on gold and silver on her international debut in Lyon last year with 100m, 400m and 4x100m silver in Swansea in the summer. However, by her very own high standards the Charnwood AC athlete was disappointed not to add European gold to the world gold she won in 2014, but is determined to make sure she’s even better equipped and focused come October’s trip to the Middle East.

The T38 100m world record holder said: “Obviously I was disappointed especially after winning at the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games I had a really good feeling about getting that gold. I think the conditions took the better of me but I was happy to get the silver in the 400m because it’s a new event for me and the relay because that’s where I was at my best.

“My target is this year is to go under 13 seconds and win gold in Doha, which I know is going to be difficult but I’m working really hard, keeping a low profile and delivering on the day really. It’s all about blanking out the competitors and looking straight down the 100m and focusing straight from the blocks.”

Hahn finds herself in one of the most competitive classes in para-athletics with Russia’s Margarita Goncharova one of her main rivals along with Brazil’s world champion Veronica Hipolito. Goncharova pipped Hahn to gold three times at the IPC European Championships and also broke the teenager’s world record in May. However, showing her true grit and determination, Hahn only let her keep it for 24 hours before taking it back in Loughborough clocking 13.04.

Hahn will meet both contenders for the world crown in Doha this year and is hoping for a strong return in 2015 with both medals and times firmly in her sights.  

“They’re (Hipolito and Goncharova) fantastic athletes and I respect them greatly but it would mean the absolute world to beat them. It’s not going to be easy, but the competition is good for the sport and for the people coming to watch too.

“I don’t think it’s going to be easy to keep my world record as I think it will very soon go down to 12.9 or 12.8. I don’t know who will break it, but I’d like to be the first one that goes under 13 seconds.

“I feel pressure going into the World Championships because Lyon was so fantastic. I would love it to happen again, but I know to do that is going to be a real challenge, but one I’m ready for.”  

Hahn, who is studying Equine Management in Melton Mowbray has successfully managed the transition from standing starts to being in the blocks, but believes that more practise over the coming months, will see her off to an even more explosive start.

“I’m looking to do an indoor season and I’m working on my block starts so I’m ready for the summer. When you’re standing you don’t have to worry about anything, but when I first went into blocks, I was a little unstable but I’m getting stronger and stronger as I use them more.”

While the Loughborough-based athlete was the fresh face of the GB & NI team in 2013, it was another sprinter who caught Hahn’s eye in 2014 in what is a very exciting time for para-athletics in this country.

“It’s really exciting to see so many athletes coming through. Maria (Lyle) is a very talented athlete and people like her will inspire athletes of any age to come along trial like she did and hopefully go on to win gold as she did in Swansea last summer. She’s someone I look up to and there is a bright future ahead for her.”

You can follow Sophie on her journey to Doha on Twitter here