5th December 2018
GRAND SLAM HAHN LOOKS BACK ON MEMORABLE SEASON
A first Commonwealth title, three European gold medals and a world record; it is fair to say Sophie Hahn has achieved incredible success in 2018. With a grand slam of the available titles now achieved in her career at the age of 21, Hahn is motivated to continue her improvement in the sport with an exciting few years ahead.
Reflecting on her 2018 season, Hahn commented: “It’s a huge honour to have won every title. I could never have imagined when I first started that I would have won all these titles and hold the world record. This has been a fantastic year and all the hard work in the gym and on the track has paid off. I’m just absolutely delighted with my year.”
It all started Down Under at the Commonwealth Games where she represented Team England in the T38 100m. With a record number of para athletics events integrated into the programme, Hahn blasted the team to one of its five gold medals.
She regards the Commonwealth title as the standout moment from a successful year.
“I think for me, the highlight was winning the Commonwealth title because it is the last one of the set,” said Hahn, “I thought how amazing it would be at the age of 21 to add the Commonwealth Games title to the collection, so that was the highlight by far.”
She ran a blistering time of 12.46, just 0.02 seconds outside her world record, which showed the great form she was in so early in the season.
Following this, Hahn raced conservatively in the months leading up to the Europeans in August, and when she did race, she produced some superb displays. No more so than at the Muller Anniversary Games where she took a significant amount of time off her previous T38 200m world record to wow the crowd and the millions watching around the world.
Hahn – who won two world golds at the London Stadium last summer – has a special relationship with the stadium, producing some of the best performances of her career in the iconic venue.
So why is it so special to her?
“I love competing in London. I don’t know what it is, but I have so much adrenaline when I compete there. The crowd are amazing, and you know it is a fast track.”
On the world record run, when she ran a time of 25.93, she added:
“My coach and I spoke and said, ‘make sure you hit the first 180m hard’, which I did, and find an extra gear in the final 20m. It was an incredible achievement and I couldn’t quite believe it to be honest.”
“The noise was so loud when I got to 180 metres. I thought someone was near me, but the crowd were just getting behind me and pushing me to a fast time, so I have a lot to thank them for. They play a massive part in our performances.”
So, on to Berlin and the World Para Athletics European Championships, where her target was clear.
“I’d raced there a couple of times, so I knew the track wasn’t going to be fast, so I wasn’t so concerned about the times; my main mission was winning those gold medals.”
And she went on to deliver three gold medals across the T38 100m and 200m, as well anchoring the team to the title in the inaugural universal relay which brought the programme to a close in Germany.
Of course, the coach who guided her to these successes over the last six years has been Joe McDonnell. After a successful partnership during that time which has brought Paralympic, world, European and Commonwealth glory, Hahn has decided to take a new direction with her coaching set-up and has joined Leon Baptiste’s training group in Loughborough.
She only had words of praise for Joe, saying: “I want to give a big thank you for Joe. He has provided magnificent support over the last six years. I’ve loved every minute working with him. Without him, I wouldn’t have been able to complete my set of medals, so again, a huge thank you to Joe for the last few years.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Leon Baptiste. It is going to be a very exciting two years. We’ve got such a strong group; we’ve got Beth Dobbin, Alisha Rees, Zac Shaw – so many talented athletes.”
She jointly collected the Female Para Athlete of the Year award up alongside Kare Adenegan at last week’s British Athletics Writer’s Association (BAWA) Awards, showing further recognition of her achievements throughout the year. Nevertheless, with the World Championships in Dubai next November, and the Paralympics approaching in 2020, she is aware that the hard work never stops as she continues to perform at the highest level.
“I’ll be training even harder than I have done before. I’d love to retain my titles at the world championships, but I don’t want to make any promises. I know I have to work hard over the winter if I am to achieve those goals.”