Sprint star Sophie Hahn ready for Paralympic debut

Sophie Hahn EMN-160817-090046002

Sophie Hahn EMN-160817-090046002

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Just four years after watching London 2012 as a rapt armchair spectator, Sophie Hahn sets off for the 2016 Paralympics this week with hopes high of a debut gold.

The two-time world champion sprinter leaves these shores for a holding camp ahead of the global championships which get under way in around three weeks.

Sophie with coach Joe McDonnell EMN-160818-085103002

Sophie with coach Joe McDonnell EMN-160818-085103002

She will be hot favourite for the T38 100m title on what will be her Paralympic debut and has her eyes on a second gold in the 4x100m relay.

“I’m very happy with the way the season has gone,” she told the Melton Times.

“To finish it by winning a Paralympic gold would be the icing on the cake.”

Hahn was in devastating form in winning her second IPC World Championships 100m gold medal last October in Qatar.

Defending her title, she became the first female T38 runner to break the 13-second barrier and smashed through it, lowering her own world record in the final to a sensational 12.60secs.

This year she has been unbeatable over the distance and became European champion for the first time in Italy.

She then served up another impressive run at the Anniversary Games in London, finishing within six-hundredths of a second off her own world best.

But Hahn is taking nothing for granted in Rio.

“My class is very competitive,” she added.

“There are potentially six athletes that could go under 13 seconds so I just have to go out and do my best.”

Hahn’s coach Joe McDonnell discovered her sprinting potential in 2012 when she was encouraged to attend a British Athletics’ talent ID drive at Loughborough by her older brother Jamie.

McDonnell is confident she can add Paralympic gold to complete her 100m medal collection, but believes Rio will be about getting the job done rather than record times.

“She is renowned for being one of the best starters in the world,” he said.

“She wins the majority of her races by the time she gets to 60 metres. But winning a medal at a major games is all about race execution.

“Everyone else will be racing against Sophie and that’s pressure on its own.”

The 19-year-old will miss out on the opening ceremony on Wednesday, September 7 to rest up for the 100m heats the following day.

The final takes place on the Friday and then she will have almost a week to stay in peak condition before the relay.

“Training has gone very well this year and I’m feeling in good shape at the moment” Hahn said.

“It’s my first games so I’m very excited, but nervous at the same time. I don’t know what to expect.”

n Look out for the full interview and in-depth feature in the coming weeks.