Sophie Hahn has been backed to use Commonwealth Games disappointment as fuel in her quest for a third Paralympic Games gold medal.
Hahn, 26, was defeated when defending her T38 100m Commonwealth Games crown in Birmingham last year, as Olivia Breen emerged as a surprise victor.
Few have been able to keep pace with Hahn during her career, both on the track and in the medal stakes, and Alasdair Donaldson, head of parasport at Loughborough University, believes her mentality will ensure she bounces back from last year’s setback.
“Sophie came into the sport pretty much off the back of London 2012 and has been incredibly successful since that time,” said Donaldson, speaking at the University of Loughborough, to celebrate the work of The National Lottery in supporting para-athletics.
“Last year was really the first time that things have not kept going up. That can go one of two ways for athletes, and what we’re seeing so far is that she is going in a positive direction.
“It helps her and her drive to come back to know there is competition there. She’s seen that at the World Championships and I’m sure she’ll be even more driven to get to Paris and repeat what she’s already done in Rio and Tokyo.”
With the Paris 2024 Olympics and Paralympics only one year away, the Games are set to inspire people across the country, just like Hahn, who joined Charnwood Athletics Club following the success of Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft at London 2012.
Hahn and Breen both train at Loughborough University and Donaldson believes their fledgling rivalry will help push them onto new heights.
“Olivia is another athlete who is pushing her own boundaries and trying to do her very best,” he said.
“That national competition can only ever be a positive one that helps no matter what and helps to keep Britain at the forefront in many cases.”
Many of those flying the flag for ParalympicsGB next summer will have been reared at the prestigious university now synonymous with sporting success. They will benefit from the £9 million of National Lottery investment committed to this Paralympic cycle, which goes to training camps, holding camps, athletes support, and helps athletes like Hahn and Breen compete at major Championships and Games.
While Hahn and Breen will lead the charge for Britain’s women in the French capital, Donaldson suspects there will be a mixture of old and new faces among the male stars topping the rostrum.
“Dan Greaves is an alumnus but is still based here and continually delivering medal winning performances year after year,” added Donaldson.
“Then in terms of up-and-coming stars, we have Luke Nuttall who is a fantastic young 1,500m runner and he will hopefully be making great strides in the next 12 months.
“We also have Thomas Young, who probably didn’t have his greatest race at the World Championships, but hopefully that gives him even more fuel ahead of Paris.
“Paris is a real opportunity to showcase para-sport again and I’m sure there will be an awful lot of Brits in the stands cheering people on.”
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