Biathlete Sofie aiming high after gold and bronze in nationals

Sophie Hopkins takes aim
Sophie Hopkins takes aim

Scarborough sixth-former Sofie Hopkins earned two medals in her four events at the British Biathlon Championships in Ruhpolding in Germany.

It was not all plain sailing for the 18-year-old from Foxholes, as she pulled out of the 7.5km event and was disqualified in the 3x6km women’s relay competition for missing a checkpoint.

Biathlon is a Nordic skiing event in which the competitors combine cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

Sofie, who won the British title on her debut last season, started with a bronze medal in the 12.5km individual junior women’s competition, but then failed to finish the next event.

Her father Frank Hopkins said: “In this event she found the pressure to perform too much.

“She said to me it was like trying to ski uphill with a safe on her back, then her legs just stopped, it was the most horrible feeling.

“This is crazy since the month before she had broken an 21km endurance speed record at York racetrack by an extra 3km.”

The teenager bounced back with a gold medal in her third event, the 10km mass start, and then found herself disqualified from the final competition for missing a checkpoint.

Her dad added: “We had a terrible time on the morning of the final competition as our car was snowed in.

“We did finally get going but it looked like we were too late for Sofie to enter the event.

“The officials did relent and said she can take part if she goes straight to the start, but this gave her no time to have a look at the route and she missed the checkpoint, which caused her to be disqualified.”

Despite her troubles in the event, the youngster has taken plenty from the experience at the championships.

Proud dad Frank said: “She’s still very young as most British biathletes haven’t even started at her age, as she has only just turned 18.

“Sofie’s not upset as she has learned a lot, and got some great training tips and made some friends for life.

“It was tougher this year, there were broken sticks, skis and people were ambulanced off.

“It also saw one of the largest mens mass starts , normally 30, there was 75.

“The athletes, staff and management were very supportive and she would like to thank all her sponsors and supporters for their help getting her to Germany to compete.”

“She has been asked by generals and colonels of several different regiments who saw her perform in Germany to produce a portfolio for career interviews.

“Sofie also had the chance to train with the German Olympic team before the championships, at Oberhof, and she was thrilled to be training with her heroes.”