Sophie Hahn: “I can’t believe I’m Paralympic champion; it’s crazy!”

Sophie Hahn on the top step of the podium flanked by good friend Veronica Hipolito (left) and GB team-mate Kadeena Cox PICTURE: Adam Davy/PA EMN-160914-093817002

Sophie Hahn on the top step of the podium flanked by good friend Veronica Hipolito (left) and GB team-mate Kadeena Cox PICTURE: Adam Davy/PA EMN-160914-093817002

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Sophie Hahn completed the set of major international 100m titles as she stormed to Paralympic gold in dominant fashion on Friday evening.

The 19-year-old sprint star eased to the biggest title of all with a polished performance in the T38 100m final, having destroyed the Paralympic record in the heats 24 hours earlier.

Sophie Hahn celebrates Paralympic gold in the Women's 100m - T38 final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil PICTURE: Adam Davy/PA EMN-160914-093805002

Sophie Hahn celebrates Paralympic gold in the Women's 100m - T38 final in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil PICTURE: Adam Davy/PA EMN-160914-093805002

Hahn’s athletics career seems stuck in fast forward. She took up running just a handful of years ago, inspired by the 2012 games in London, but is already a two-time world champion.

Having won the European title earlier this summer, the former Brooksby Melton College student already has a full set of honours, while still four months shy of her 20th birthday.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” she said. “I never imagined being Paralympic champion. It’s absolutely amazing.

“I was on holiday when the games were on (in 2012) and I was glued to the TV, and four years later I can’t believe I’m Paralympic champion. It’s crazy!”

Hahn had to miss the opening ceremony to save her energy for the heats the following day, and ran within 0.02secs of her world record time, set in the world championships final last October.

The time of 12.62secs took almost a second off the Paralympic record of 13.43secs which had stood since 2008.

Joe McDonnell and Sam Heathcote have coached Hahn at Loughborough through her fairytale journey from running novice to global champion.

McDonnell told the Melton Times: “Before her semi-final and final I told her ‘if you need to run 13 seconds to win the medal fine, but if you need to break the world record to win the gold, that’s fine too, because you are in shape to dominate and control the race’.”

As the hot gold medal favourite, Hahn was a target for all of her rivals, particularly Brazilian former world record holder Veronica Hipolito and British team-mate Kadeena Cox.

But while the rest looked nervous on the start line, Hahn appeared focussed and ready.

Blasting out of the blocks, she inched in front of her friend Hipolito at halfway with the two already away and clear.

With her rivals decelerating, the British athlete stretched away in the final third to win by a quarter-of-a-second from the Brazilian, stopping the clock in an identical time to her heat.

“Sophie’s dominant display of sprinting was incredible,” McDonnell added. “She left the opposition running for silver and bronze and they knew that when she went into the lead at 50 metres.

“Hipolito ran amazingly, both in the semi and the final and is a similar athlete to Sophie.

“But Sophie has a better maximal speed and does not decelerate like the others. There is also the human factor of her desire to be the best.”

McDonnell believes the world will not see the best of his protégé until the next Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020, but in the meantime, there is a chance of a second gold medal in the 4x100m relay later today (Thursday).

“Sophie is in incredible shape right now,” added McDonnell, who also coaches double-Paralympic champion sprinter Libby Clegg.

“She has shown great maturity in performing at the highest level with calmness and focus.

“It’s easy to let the emotion of the event to alter the process and structure you have in place to perform. From the outset the focus was to stick to the process and win the medal. I am one proud coach.”