Sophie Hahn rubberstamps London 2012 legacy with Paralympic Games spot

World champion sprinter Sophie Hahn EMN-160629-082717002
World champion sprinter Sophie Hahn EMN-160629-082717002
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The London 2012 legacy makers claimed one of their biggest successes last Thursday when Sophie Hahn’s place was confirmed at the Rio Paralympics.

Hahn was a TV spectator four years ago, kept glued to the screen with the rest of her family by the Olympics and Paralympics.

Before that golden summer of British sport, the Brooksby Melton College student had no significant involvement in sport, let alone running.

But having been inspired to hit the track by those London showpieces, she will jet off to Brazil later this summer nestled snugly among Team GB’s gold medal favourites.

“It’s an absolute honour and I’m very excited,” she said.

“I can’t believe I’m going to the Paralympic Games to represent my country.”

The 19-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, grabbed the sporting world by the lapels at the IPC World Athletics Championships in 2013 - her first major international competition.

Within just 10 months of taking up the sport, she broke the championship record in her opening T38 200m heat on her way to a surprise silver medal in the final.

Incredibly, just two days later, Hahn, coached by Joe McDonnell at Loughborough, then went one better by winning the 100m in a world record time.

She had to make do with three silver medals at the IPC European Championships the following year, beaten by her arch rival Margarita Goncharova, of Russia.

But the teenager then bounced back in remarkable fashion at last November’s World Championships with her second 100m gold.

In the final she obliterated the 100m world record by a staggering four-tenths of a second, lowering the mark to 12.60secs.

She followed up with another 200m silver before securing her second gold with the British 4x100m relay team.

“I think a Paralympic gold medal would be absolutely phenomenal, but I’m just going to do my best and see what happens on the day,” Hahn added.

“The relay will be the most exciting because we have a very strong team.”

As well as her fascinating rivalry with Goncharova, Hahn will also lock horns once more with 2013 world 200m champion Veronica Hipolito.

The Brazilian missed last year’s world championships in Qatar, but will have the advantage, and perhaps added pressure, of a partisan home crowd behind her in Rio.