By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
IT’S been exactly ten years since a starry-eyed Sophie Hahn first took to the track.
Then aged just 15, the Nottingham-born star joined Charnwood Athletics Club in Loughborough off the back of a glittering London 2012 for the likes of Jonnie Peacock and Hannah Cockroft.
She won gold in the T38 100m at her first major international competition at the 2013 World Championships before further success at the European Championships, Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
And despite having conquered all four major events, Hahn says the chance to represent her country is a privilege she will never take for granted.
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“I just love what I do,” explained Hahn, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
“I love representing my country, especially Team England at a home Games, and I think if you love what you do, and you’re very passionate, why give it up?
“Why not keep pushing and saying, ‘yes you’ve done this but can you do it again and again.’
“I’ve been very fortunate to travel all over the world, I never imagined going to Tokyo, Australia, Gold Coast or having a home World Championships.
“We’re very lucky and fortunate. Yes, we do work hard but we’re very lucky to represent our country and travel all over the world.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Hahn is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.
The 25-year-old has certainly made the most of those trips, picking up 13 major championship golds to date and in 2018 becoming the first female track and field athlete to hold gold medals in the same event from the World Championships, Paralympic Games, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
And besides taking her dogs for a walk to destress, Hahn says the key to her success is sheer hard work and dedication.
She explained: “Let’s say you’ve had a break and you go back to day one of winter training, just give it 100 per cent every single session you do, in terms of yes on the track and in the gym but recovery too.
“Have you cooled down? Have you taken your protein shake? Is the body ready to go again? I think it’s all about recovery and giving everything you’ve got.”
That commitment has paid off according to Hahn, who has been pleased with her progress ahead of her second Commonwealth Games.
And having claimed two golds when last roared on by a home crowd – at the World Championships in London in 2017 – Hahn is hoping she can repay her support with yet more success and another passionate rendition of the national anthem.
“The home advantage definitely helps,” she said. “Standing on the start line and having your name introduced, the crowd goes absolutely insane and I think that can give you a bit of a confidence boost.
“I think to stand on the podium and hear the national anthem would definitely be a highlight and hopefully that means all the work will have paid off.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.