Paralympic Cyclist Tells Girls to Fight for Equality

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Paralympic Gold medallist Sophie Thornhill told young women at King’s Girls’ Division they had to fight for the right to equality.

Speaking as the latest in a series of motivational speakers revealing the secrets of their success, Sophie said: “As a visually impaired athlete I have had to fight to overcome a statistical disadvantage; then as women we all have to fight to gain equality.

“Despite the improvements won by former generations of women, statistics show that women are still disadvantaged in the work place and the only way to gain is equality, just as the only way to win gold, is to work hard. What ever disadvantage you face, race: gender, religion, colour, physical ability; hard work is the key to success.”

Power house Sophie now aged 20 has enjoyed a phenomenal rise to the top of the para-cycling world, first joining the Great Britain Cycling Team in May 2013 just after leaving Poynton High School.

Within 12 months, Sophie, who has only eight per cent vision, had won two world titles, in the tandem kilo and sprint, and broken two world records in the process at her debut UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Mexico, a feat she repeated in 2015 at the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships in Holland.

The 2016 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships saw Thornhill, and pilot Helen Scott, add to her medal haul with silver medals in both events before becoming a Paralympic champion in Rio later that year, winning Gold in the tandem B kilo time trial and a Bronze medal in the tandem B pursuit.

Sophie trains six times a week on the track, twice a week on the road and is also in the gym twice and says: “I have achieved my dream in Rio but I will be trying just as hard to win Tokyo.”

Sophie is pictured with Girls’ Division ambassadors Sophie Moss, Lizzie Adams and fellow cyclist Ffyona Booker. Ffyona who is a former national medal winning national cyclo-cross specialist, said: “It was amazing to have such an inspirational speaker tell us about just what is needed to reach the top, especially as she has achieved so much in such a short time from leaving school.”