In-form Sophie Hahn out to make history in World Championship year

Sophie Hahn is gearing up to retain her world title this autumn EMN-150624-111228002
Sophie Hahn is gearing up to retain her world title this autumn EMN-150624-111228002
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Sophie Hahn’s early season pace has taken her by surprise as she embarks on the biggest 12 months of her career.

The 18-year-old became the first T38 100m sprinter in history to break the 13-second barrier in May and repeated the feat just a fortnight later.

Both times could not be classified as world records because of wind assistance and the lack of doping tests at both meets, but they offer a tantalising glimpse of what could await this season.

Sophie first lowered her PB of 13.04secs at the Loughborough International meet – a track where she grabbed her world record back 12 months earlier – with a time of 12.95.

Two weeks later Sophie went even faster in Bedford, scorching across the line in 12.83.

She said: “They didn’t count, but I have it in the tank and know I can do it so hopefully it will come at the next competition.

“Winter training went really well this year and my main focus was to go under 13 seconds.

“I was expecting to run close, but I had no idea it would come so soon.

“I was really shocked and surprised. I still look back and can’t believe it.”

Already this season Sophie has two IPC Grand Prix 100m wins under her belt, in Dubai and Italy, and a pair of second places over 200m.

In October, Sophie has a chance to retain her 100m world title, if selected, at the IPC World Athletics Championships, in the humid air of Doha, Qatar.

And then there’s the big one next summer and the possibility of a debut on the biggest stage of them all, the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

“My main focus is the worlds, but I have to take one competition at a time and I need to get the qualifying standard first,” she added.

“I would love to become double world champion, but I think it will be very exciting. I wouldn’t like to call who wins gold.”

While she is concentrating hard on improving her own technique, particularly out of the starting blocks, like all top athletes, Sophie also has one eye on her rivals.

She was beaten to European gold three times last summer by Russian sprinter Margarita Goncharova, while reigning T38 200m world champion Veronica Hipolito, from Brazil, will be a big danger in Qatar.

Sophie added: “I fully expect my world record to be broken at some point.

“They are fantastic athletes and you can’t keep a world record for ever.”